Tag Archives: simplicity

The Date Night Dress

9 Jan

So here it is — my big sewing accomplishment from the New Year’s holiday.  I am so pleased with how this make turned out.  I didn’t copy a particular RTW design but I do think it looks a lot like some Kate Spade dresses I have seen.  What do you think?


Necklace: Nine and Co.
Clutch: Cruise ship duty free shop
Shoes: Donald J Pliner

This dress is made from New Look 6457 and I used one of my NYC fabrics — a luscious silk Dupioni/Shantung with a white background, large grey and black paisleys, and scattered black and dark cobalt/navy sequins.


It is trimmed with black satin (self-made) piping at the princess seams, neckline, armholes, waistline, and hem.  I finished it with a handpicked lapped center back zipper and handstitched invisible hem (with grey lace hem tape).


My first lapped and handpicked zipper!

As far as alterations go, I used the bodice front pieces from Simplicity 2648 (see Peplum Top from last week) because I knew they already fit.  I lowered the front neckline 1.5″ and the back neckline 3″.  I took 0.5″ off the bodice length.


I added piping to the princess seams because I like the look, although this wasn’t called for in the pattern.  The pattern called for a gathered, Dirndl skirt, but I wanted something with a cleaner look, so I cut the pattern skirt pieces but converted the gathers to box pleats in the front and regular pleats in the back and lined them up with the princess seams.

I learned several new techniques while making this dress — how to make piping from scratch, how to insert a lapped zipper, how to handpick a zipper, how to insert a zipper guard, how to apply hem tape, how to insert a hook and eye, and how to insert a dress lining without any hand stitching (yay!).


I fully lined the dress, the bodice with a stretch satin because it feels so good slipping on and off, and the skirt with Bemberg rayon.  I hemmed the skirt lining by machine and frilled it up with grey lace hem tape to match the dress skirt.


I applied a zipper guard to keep the zipper from eating up the lining or dress fabric.


On the dress’ first outing, my husband and I went to one of our favorite “fancy” restaurants in town.  Toward the end of the meal my husband said a casual hello to another man as he was walking out and told me “that’s Larry the Cable Guy.”  I was like “Oh, okay, huh?”  After a moment of my husband explaining things to me and after we had paid our tab, we met “Larry,” who is really Dan, outside the restaurant, chatted for a few moments, then snapped a pic so I could show y’all that this dress also attracts celebrities 🙂




Here is a view of how I wore the dress for its second outing (to church and brunch), plus an action shot of me ironing some invisible fabric.  I topped it with a chunkier necklace (The Limited), RTW black ponte jacket with leather trim (Elie Tahari), and black suede tall boots (Stuart Weitzman).  And fresh hair and make-up.


So while there are a few things that are not perfect about my dress, I will not be pointing those things out to you and I dare you to spot them (well, I don’t really dare you, but you know what I mean).  I am so glad I have finally made something substantial I am proud of and will wear over and over again.


And because I promised a glimpse of what’s on my sewing table, Gertie’s shirtwaist dress, as a shirt with a peplum (are you tired of those yet?).  This is a wearable muslin and if it turns out, I will be making the dress next.  What’s on your sewing table?


Knit Peplum Top

2 Jan

Happy New Year everyone!  I hope you had an excellent holiday season and your mind is full of exciting resolutions 🙂

I have taken the last few days off of work and have spent it doing little other than sewing.  I have to tell you it has been wonderful!  I had gotten a little disgruntled with my sewing because I had been having some trouble with sorting out my fitting issues but I made two garments over the break that I think fit perfectly.  This accomplishment was just what I needed to get my “sewjo” back and I am ready to tackle more projects now.




On a side note, I participated in the Christmas sewing swap hosted by Vicki Kate and I was paired up with Rebecca from Sew Tiger Sew all the way over in San Francisco.  She sent me this gorgeous grey and white sheer cotton from Britex Fabrics.  I may be making an Alma blouse with it if I buy the pattern or I may use a pattern from my stash — we’ll see.  You’ll have to wait to see what I sent Rebecca when she reveals it on her blog.




A few days ago, I was checking out a new local high-end women’s boutique.  I saw several cute knit peplum tops on the racks, all in the $250 and up price range.  Aside from remarking to my husband on the outrageous price tag for something that was fabricated in China, I also noted the simple construction techniques that had been used to make the tops and exclaimed that I could make one myself — and for a lot less than $250!  So I set out to do just that.




For this top, I used Simplicity 2648, an Amazing Fit dress pattern.  I had made it once before in the preblog days before I knew how much ease the Big 4 pattern companies add to their patterns.  I recut the pattern in a smaller size and bust cup and the fit was much better.  I still did a little bit of tweaking, I think mostly because I used a knit (albeit very stable and sturdy Eileen Fisher white ponte knit), and took the seams in a tad under the bust and at the sides, but overall the 12C pattern fit me well.  I also shortened the bodice by 1″ for my short waist.  I drafted my own 1/2 circle peplum to fit once I had perfected the fit of the bodice.




For construction, I serged all the seams with a 4-thread overlock.  I then topstitched the princess seams and back darts as well as the waist seam.




I fully lined the top with a silky tricot I picked up at a local fabric salvage shop for a song.  I edge stitched the neck and armhole openings to echo the topstitching and to help keep the lining in place.




Overall, I LOVE my top and plan to wear it a ton.  I think I will also be making more knit tops like this but don’t know that I will be lining all of them, especially if they are not in a see-through color.




As an added bonus, I  now have a princess bodice block that fits me and I will be showing you the second project of my mini holiday break that I created using the pattern soon but in the meantime here is a sneak peek!




Styling Notes

Top:  Me Made!

Skirt:  CAbi

Tights:  Spanx

Shoes:  Donald J Pliner

Necklace:  Kenneth Cole

Shorts! Simplicity 1808

12 Oct

Because the genetic code passed on to me by my parents included sequencing for excessive junk in my trunk, I have always had a hard time finding bottoms to fit — things that fit in the waist are too tight in the hips and if something fits in the hips it gapes in the waist. Shorts seem to be exceptionally tricky for some reason, so when I started sewing, shorts were high on my list of must-makes. I recently saw these cute shorts on the Nordstrom blog and thought I would try to recreate them.


They have cute pleats in the front which I think are more flattering for my fuller front thigh, and the back waistband (couldn’t find a pic), is elasticized. Then I came across this pattern:


and decided that it could be easily adapted to suit my goals. I did make a few alterations. First, I omitted the tie belt. Second, I stopped the elastic at the side seam instead of carrying it around as depicted in the pattern. Third, I separated the pocket piece into two so I could have my pocket lined in a different fabric.

In terms of fit, I made a muslin first in a slightly stretchy cotton woven. The shorts ended up being really big (I could have taken an inch out of each side seam), so for this pair I cut a size smaller.


Unfortunately, when I made my fashion fabric pair, I couldn’t pull them up over my hips. Luckily, letting out all the waist seams to the max and tapering it down gave me just enough room to shimmy into these if I do it just right. I can’t explain this.


Here’s a pic of the front pleat and pocket detail.  Dark clothes are hard to photograph so I tried to lighten it up a bit to show the details — still not a great photo.


A view from the side showing how the elastic portion of the waistband stops at the side seam.


Now the back view — ugh!  Will not be wearing these with my shirt tucked in!!  I would like to add welt pockets and belt loops but I don’t know if that would fix the crumpled paper bag appearance of my back side.  After I finished my shorts, I saw Lauren’s version where she used a single wide elastic and stitched over it with a 3 part zigzag.  I think her back waistband looks much better so if I make these again I will employ that technique.


A view of my cute silk charmeuse pockets.

Overall, I am pleased with my shorts and feel like I have made some progress in my sewing and pattern alteration skills.  I would like to try the Thurlow pattern by Sewaholic next to see if I can get a finished product that works with a shirt tucked in 🙂


Pattern:  Simplicity 1808

Fabric:  Carolina Herrera cotton sateen (shorts), print silk charmeuse (pocket and waistband lining)

Notions:  1/4″ elastic

Finishes used:  Serged seam allowances, machine blind hemmed, stitched in the ditch to secure waistband facing

Top:  Oldie from Target

Shoes:  Seychelles from earlier this year

Necklace:  Premier

Bracelets:  Kenneth Cole from Dillard’s

Christmas Party Dress — Simplicity 2178 Again

8 Feb

Sorry for the blurry iPhone pics. My camera battery was dead.


Here is my second attempt at the Simplicity 2178 — much better technique and results this go-around.  I decided to use three different silks for the different parts of the dress.  The peau de soie from the waistband also faced the shoulder ties to provide some contrast.  I wish I had used it for the hem facing also because that would have felt much better against my skin.  I still didn’t realize I need a full bust adjustment so the waistband sits a little higher in the front than in the back, but all in all I am happy with the fit and I got tons of compliments on the dress when I wore it at my Christmas party.

I promise it wasn't wrinkled when I wore it. It has been hanging in my closet for the past two months post-party.

Speaking of the Christmas party, every year for the past three years, my husband and I, with the help of several wonderful friends, host 50+ of our closest friends at our (too small) home.  Being raised by a family of gracious Southern hostesses, I always insist on overdoing it and going overboard with the menu.  This year I tried to delegate a little more and I think I did a pretty good job.  Our menu included ham and turkey carving stations, fruit/veggie/cheese trays, West Indes salad (a local creation!), several dips, crab rangoon, assorted cupcakes and other desserts, a champagne bar and beer, my husband’s famous eggnog, and a very popular Apple Pie Moonshine — whew!  I will be posting some of the recipes soon, next up will be a variation of an old family favorite — Red Velvet — so stay tuned!

Sewing Debut Dress — Simplicity 2178

7 Feb


Back in September, my husband and I attend a benefit for our local schools with my sister, cousins, and some friends. This event featured a Bobby Flay style cooking showdown with some of our area’s best chefs (and lots of tasting, of course!). There was also a fashion show hosted by several local boutiques featuring their latest styles. During the fashion show, glam ladies passed around lip gloss minis from an awesome local makeup line, carrying them like cocktails on silver trays–so cute! It was this fashionable aspect of the event that inspired me to make my own dress for the evening. I wanted something cute and trendy, something maybe a bit different than everything else in my closet, so I chose Simplicity 2178. Plus, this would be my first time to wear a me-made garment into public.


The fabric is a synthetic woven from Hancock Fabrics that was not ideal for a new sewist because of its drapiness but it all worked out. I cut a straight 14 in this pattern, but in hindsight, I needed a full bust adjustment. Some of the instructions weren’t clear to me at the time, like understitching the facing and how to position the invisible zip. I also didn’t pay enough attention to the pattern markings on the seams where the waistband joins the bodice and skirt. I have made this dress again with much better technique and I will post pictures of that one soon.

I omitted the shoulder strap because I didn’t like it and the dress was fine without it. I used a little doublesided tape just to be safe:)

The best part of the evening was dancing the night away with my honey to eighties tunes covered by one of our best local bands. To top it all off, my dress got its picture in not one, but two, local magazines!

On the “pink” carpet. I think most, if not all, of the other ladies featured in this spread were wearing clothes from the fashion show.


I definitely recommend this pattern and may still make the two strap version with the longer skirt at some point.

More finished sewing projects to come soon as well as some Mardi Gras festivities so stay tuned!