oonapalooza to the max-i dress

a while back when my husband and i were in NYC for a day, i had every intention of hitting up several shops in the garment district. however, we ended up only going to mood fabrics. our time was short and i decided not to torture my husband by taking him into every shop on my list. it’s hard to believe how jam packed that place is until you’re standing there in person! once i got my bearings, i kept coming back to this amazing cotton jersey (this link is to a different colorway, there are several prints on this fabric but looks like they’re going fast). the colors are fantastic and the fabric is soft and beefy. this fabric gets my highest recommendation! it doesn’t have a ton of stretch, but it would be great for anything from tee shirts to dresses.

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initially i had planned to make a simple tank style maxi dress, but i kept having visions of something more dramatic with gathers and a crossover neckline… i pulled out Simplicity 2692, which i made once several years ago and decided it would be perfect. the pattern is for a woven, but my fabric is pretty stable and only required minor adjustments. i omitted the zip and cut the back in a V-shape. i thought it would look cool to cut the bodice on the bias to take advantage of the striping going on in the fabric print.

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the bodice and midriff is fully lined (sans gathers) and i cut my lining pieces on the regular grain line to keep the bodice from stretching out too much. i cut the midriff out of a solid cotton/lycra i had on hand, which just so happened to match my fabric perfectly. WINNING. i also really love the cut of the skirt in this pattern. the hem has a nice full sweep but it gathers only at CF and CB, avoiding unnecessary bulk.

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making this dress happened to coincide with the sewcialists oonaballona-themed july, and as i was finishing up the dress, i realized it was definitely oona-esque (i totally envy her spunk and technicolor wardrobe!). this dress is much louder than my usual makes, but for a summer dress it’s pretty much perfect. i would consider myself more of the wallflower variety, so it’s fun to step outside of my comfort zone. let’s face it—this dress does not blend in.

—lisa g.

cropped zippy top and linen skirt

hey ya’ll! i had every intention of blogging my backlog of projects before we went on our summer vacation, but alas. it wasn’t meant to be. probably because i was sewing like a madwoman up until the last day, as one does… MUST SEW ALL THE THINGS. i have several makes older than this combo, but i really like this particular outfit so i thought i’d start there.

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a few months back, i suddenly decided that i needed a navy linen skirt. and then couldn’t find any navy linen at my usual fabric haunts. then one day i ran into joanns for a zip/thread/pattern sale, and their linen was 50% off and they had the exact shade of navy i was looking for. this particular linen is blended with rayon, which gives it a nice soft hand. it also has a subtle woven pattern to it, which is a nice touch. having recently acquired the lonsdale dress pattern, i decided to use the skirt pieces and shorten them by 4″ or so.

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i top stitched every seam to add a little detail, and bar tacked at the top and bottom of the pocket openings. i wish the skirt had a little more flare, but overall i really like it and it fits in nicely with my wardrobe. i’m really itching to pair it with a nettie (preferably in a mint green…) definitely on my to do list!

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after making this skirt i made see kate sew’s zippy top. i really intended to alter my scout tee to have a kimono cap sleeve, but when Kate put up a sale on all her patterns a while back i decided to try it out.

initially i cut this top to full length. when i realized that it would be a perfect match to my navy skirt i tried them on together and just loved the look. i wasn’t super excited about tucking the shirt in, as this fabric—though lightweight and gauze-y—has some body to it that made tucking a little fussy and unflattering. then i flipped up the hem to a cropped length and had a definite “ah-ha” moment. suddenly the crop top trend made sense! it helped that Sonja at gingermakes had just that day posted a crop top/skirt combo of her own, which nudged me in that direction. the crop does considerably narrow my options of what i can pair with this top, but i’m okay with that. i was nervous of over-cropping, so i went with a length in the front that is 1″ lower than the crop line in the pattern, and 2″ lower in the back. i think this worked out great, and i love the subtle sweep of the back hem.

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i actually didn’t plan on putting in the back zip, but as it happened i had a red zip on hand that kinda looked cool with the blue floral, so in it went. my fabric is a smidge see-through, so instead of the facing i did a bias facing at the neckline, and used a scrap to cut out the zip opening in the back.

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i’m really pleased with this outfit. it’s great for summer, and the whole not tucking in my shirt thing is pretty awesome, especially on the extra hot sticky days. our summer vacation was spent in Texas visiting my husband’s side of the family where it is most definitely hot and sticky (though we lucked out on weather for most of the trip!). since we were spending a couple days in Austin, i reached out to Susan of moonthirty to see if she would be available for a little fabric shopping one afternoon. she rounded up her IRL friends, sewing buddies, and bloggers Dixie of dixie diy and Susan a.k.a “Miss Lulu” to join us. i had a great time visiting the local indie shops and getting to know these gals a little better. i think it’s awesome that they all hang out as part of a sewing group, and it has me itching to find some local sewists here at home! anyways, the point is that i wore this outfit for that little excursion, so you may have spied it on IG. haha how’s that for a smooth transition…

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thoughts on the zippy top:

it’s a nice simple pattern to have around, and i plan on hacking it to make a simple pull over dress at some point. the actual pdf file gave me a bit of a head scratching when the file didn’t have any margin lines. i thought that was just a random printer error on my end so i asked about it on IG. kate did offer to send me a new copy, but i had already gone with my gut and worked it out on my own. being a pattern with so few pieces (and easily verifiable finished measures) i’m not terribly bothered. also, i didn’t see a test square anywhere. i can’t always assume that 100% scale actually prints the right size. our current (new) printer has been pretty accurate, but with the older printer we had a few months ago, i usually had to print at 106% to get the right scale. so, i guess what i’m saying is, i like the insurance that i am, indeed, printing the right scale.

pdf issues aside, i found the drafting to be great. often on tops like this the front and back pieces are the same aside for the neckline. that’s not the case here, so i was pleased to see that. i found that it fit as expected, and next time i’ll do a SBA to remove some excess from the front, and maybe a FSA if i can be bothered. even though this is a very simple top, i’m okay letting someone else do the drafting work. it comes together super fast and would be easy to change up for color blocking, neckline changes, etc. i also find kimono sleeves ideal for layering with a cardigan—it’s far less fussy than trying to stuff a regular sleeve into a sweater.

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so that’s kind of a long post for two really simple garments, but i guess that’s just how i roll. ;-)

—lisa g.

 

mccalls 6833 | pattern review

our little excursion to NYC has come and gone already… what a whirlwind! capped by a long drive home, stuck in friday must get out of the city!!! east coast traffic. i had planned to give a mid-construction update on mccalls 6833, but the end of the school year busyness totally got in the way. anyways, here’s the deets!

(p.s. navy is really hard to photograph)

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after my initial muslin i took all the lady curves out of the bodice so it better resembled a rectangle, and ended up with a decent fit. my waist measurement puts me in a size 14-16 (whut??) while my bust is more like an 8. so i traced off a 10 bodice, but added 4″ all around to the waist. this pattern doesn’t seem to have as much ease as i’m used to in big 4 (could it be that they’ve heard our complaints?) so i paid close attention to the finished garment measurements. after a second muslin, i ended up going back and tracing off the upper bodice in a size 8 and doing another SBA, plus a forward shoulder adjustment and some lower armhole fiddling. i was reasonably confident that would work out so i was off to cut my fabric.

i did have to scrap some of my initial plans of making the bustier underneath the fuller coverage bodice. that was me high on ALL THE IDEAS!!! and low on the thinking it through part. no worries, i’m perfectly happy with what i ended up with. the only thing i changed from the pattern was to create a V shape in the back. the pattern has the back piece coming all the way up to the base of the neck, and that was feeling a little too covered up. plus, i’m all about the lower back necklines these days.

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i decided that even though this is a limited use dress, i would take the time to do some hand stitching. on the bodice, i hand-basted my underlining, catch stitched the bodice SA’s, etc. it was time well spent as i could work on the dress while thinking through how i wanted to construct certain things. i did leave my side and shoulder SA’s free in case i needed to make any adjustments once i was farther along. i ended up bringing up the shoulders a bit and taking in the waist by an inch, so thank goodness for that! nothing is worse than needing to rip out your hand stitching.

for the skirt, i cut the size 12 and adjusted the pleats to fit the bodice. i changed up the construction order by sewing the skirt front and back to the bodice separately so i could easier adjust the side seam. it’s pretty difficult to predict exactly how the bodice will sit before the weight of the skirt is there to pull it down.

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i fully lined the dress with rayon bemberg. that stuff is such a pain in the ass to cut and nearly impossible to keep on grain! it does tear from selvedge to selvedge, so i did that to true up the edges and then i taped it down to my table to give me the best chance of getting a good cut. unfortunately… i failed to triple check that my selvedges were completely lined up and had a little mishap with one of the skirt lining pieces. at that point there was no point in getting upset over it, so in a very zen fashion (a-typical of me, don’t be fooled) i cut a strip of lining, patched it on, and called it a day. the skirt lining now has a huge “scar” running down the back, but eh… that’s the charm of handmade, right?

i hand stitched the hem in place (did i mention i lengthened the skirt by 1″? cuz i did), and hemmed the lining with horsehair braid—a technique gertie had just posted about. i should mention that the lining is actually a separate pattern piece. it’s cut as a circle skirt, so if you aren’t keen on the pleats, you could use the lining for a different look. anyways, the pattern has you sew a wide length of gathered tulle part way up the lining to give the dress some oomph. i was short on time at this point and didn’t feel like messing with tulle, which is why i opted for the horsehair. i’m just so/so on the result. the horsehair is really too stiff for the bemberg and it flops awkwardly. if i have occasion to pull this dress out again, i may re-do this per the pattern directions.

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overall, i think this pattern is pretty great! there are a whole range of options for mixing and matching. however, getting a good fit for a small-busted gal like myself was more challenging that i had anticipated. the dart intake at the bust is in the ballpark of 2 1/2″, whereas i need closer to 1 1/2″. you almost have to drape it on yourself to figure out the shape for that piece… however that’s pretty hard to do on your body! i’ve since gone back and fiddled with the bust dart and upper bodice length because i’ve started working on the strap-y version with a gathered skirt for heather b’s #sewsundress sew-a-long! more on that later, since i have a few dresses planned…

as you can see above, i made a last minute clutch following a tutorial by skirt as top… who happened to post about it the day before the event i needed it for. it was super easy, and even though i’ve never made a zippered bag before, it only took about 45 minutes. win!

last thing, this pattern is rated EASY on the front. i whole-heartedly disagree. getting the front bodice pieces sewn accurately so everything lines up as it should was definitely challenging, and i can only imagine a newbie trying to work that out! and fitting… unless you tend to fit straight out of the envelope, it’s not for the faint of heart (or short on time).

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i have to say, it was fun to set aside the t-shirts and basics sewing to make this dress. and it actually does fill a hole in my wardrobe, since i didn’t have a special occasion dress prior to this! now let’s just hope a few more special occasions come up so i can wear it again. ;-)

—lisa g.

calli faye | wednesday dress

here is the calli faye wednesday dress made up as intended. since i was bummed about not having enough fabric to make this dress for my daughter’s birthday, i picked up more fabric right after finishing her blouse version. this is a cotton batik with a fine weave and soft hand. perfect for summer dresses!

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as i mentioned before, i was a little thrown by the sizing chart because it put my 50th percentile 10 yr old in a size 6. i ended up tracing the size 7 width, but extending the side seam all the way out to a size 10 length. then i used the bodice length of the size 8 to mark the waistband casing. i probably could have gone with the 8 in length as well, but i really like the modest hemline. in a sea of super short kid dress and skirt options, it’s kind of nice to have something a little more covered.

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plus it nicely balances the generous cutout on the back. i used the size 7 cutout, but i would probably reshape it a little smaller next time. it’s very open, and i’m not sure i’d send her to school in it. however it’s great for the casual summer dress it is. the only thing i altered other than sizing was to lower the neckline by 1″.

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sneaky appearance of oliver in a pair of unblogged pants…

this pattern has you partially line the dress. there aren’t separate pattern pieces for the skirt portion, so the liner is  just on the bodice and it very neatly finishes all the openings and creates the casing for the drawstring. since i had some metal eyelets on hand in exactly the right color (they came with my snap/eyelet tool) i used those instead of making buttonholes. the drawstring is simply self-bias tape made into spaghetti straps. then i attached the straps to a 10″ piece of 1/4″ elastic, which ends up at the back of the dress. that way the bow can be tied with a pretty drawstring, but the waist still stretches in the back. i hope that makes sense! basically, the middle third of the drawstring is elastic, while the ends are made from the bias tape.

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final thoughts:

i think this is a really nice pattern. i appreciate the simple shape to showcase great fabrics, plus it’s perfectly casual for everyday wear.  it is quick to sew up and, in this size, took less than two yards of a rather narrow fabric. the pdf itself felt a little clunky to put together. there was a lot of paper waste where a pattern piece just crossed over to a new page. part of this is because instead of tiling the entire pattern, certain pages are used for each pattern piece. i see this in a lot of the kid pdf patterns, and sometimes it works out great. it’s just that here (probably because i was using the larger end of the size spectrum) it felt like i wasted a several sheets of paper.

the armholes with the lining were a little tricky to navigate. i had to sew the arm opening, starting and stoping exactly where the side seam starts. then, i folded the armhole opening out of the way to sew the lining and outer side seams. i couldn’t do it in one continuous seam without major puckering under the arm, so i sewed the lining side seam, then stopped, repositioned, and sewed the shell side seam… not a big deal, but this could have been handled better in the directions. lastly, i may have mis-measured, but double check the opening placement for the drawstring before making holes. the spot i had marked would have been too low… again, that could have been my error!

all in all i’m pleased with how this came out. i’m happy i made the sizing choices i did (following the measurements, not RTW size) otherwise there would have been tons of excess fabric in the bodice. and naturally, her sisters are begging for their own. this pattern comes in 12mo-girls size 10 US, so it’s a great buy.

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all my monkeys bid you a happy summer!

—lisa g.

sleeveless archer

a while back i ordered some tencel chambray (this one, while it’s still available… it’s gorgeous stuff). my intent was to use it for a modified CP laurel or the salme buttonless shirtdress, but i felt it was borderline too thin to go sans lining, and i don’t own a slip. it’s on my list of things to make though! since my initial plan wasn’t working out, i decided to make the sleeveless archer i’ve been wanting. must bend to the will of the fabric gods, amiright?

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this top looks less frumpy tucked in (or partially tucked… let’s be real) but i left it out for the sake of photos

i searched teh interwebs for everyone’s tips on how to make the archer sleeveless. i followed jen’s advice and wedged out part of the back shirt piece and moved the shoulder seam in (1-1.5″). i also moved the under arm up and in, by about 1/2″ both directions. i was worried about potentially gape-y armholes, and that seemed to do the trick. i typically have to shorten the depth of armholes, so raising it may just be something i need to do. better to cut away excess than wish you had more!

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i also decided to make it a popover and sew a placket down the front. i debated the length of the placket for a long time, and in the end i wish it were an inch or two longer. it bugs me that the placket and pockets end at about the same place; didn’t even consider that! i also altered the pocket shape to be smaller, left off the collar, and subbed gathers for the back pleat.

my little photo-bomber. at least he's wearing a mommy-made tee ;-)

my little photo-bomber. at least he’s wearing a mommy-made tee ;-)

i’m pretty in love with this shirt! i have another sleeveless archer planned, which i’ll hopefully get to soon. i scored a gorgeous polka dot fabric recently and it’s high time i honored this great pattern with some silk, doncha think?

lisa g.

hey june | union st. tee

today i’m a stop on the blog tour for the union st tee just released by Adrianna of hey june patterns (one half of the crafterhours team). she asked me to be a tester and i was more than happy to oblige since 1.) i really need more basic tees and 2.) i’ve had great experiences with her patterns in the past. (see: here, here, here, and here)

paired with an unblogged megan nielsen kelly skirt

paired with an unblogged megan nielsen kelly skirt

i was eager to try out the v-neck variation since i had never made a v-neck tee before.  i picked up a 100% cotton jersey because it’s nice and stable. i wouldn’t dare try it in one of those thin rayon knits with loads of drape. also, i love the way cotton jersey washes and softens over time. it can definitely take the abuse of everyday life.

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the v-neck binding is a little tricky, but the pattern comes with excellent instructions to make it as painless as possible. i ended up with a teeny tiny pucker that no one but me will ever notice. i could have ripped it out, but frankly i probably would have bungled it worse had i tried to fix it.

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BUT WAIT! THERE’S MORE!

that was just my tester version. since i signed up for the blog tour, i thought i’d try out the scoop neck version of the tee as well. i picked up a rayon/cotton jersey from girlcharlee.com (the slinky non-stable type). solid tees are great and necessary, but floral prints are totally my jam. this one is listed as a light to medium weight, but i would put it firmly in the lightweight category. like just a step above the tissue knits. even though it’s lighter weight than i was hoping for, it makes for a great summer tee. plus it goes with my chartreuse shorts. WINNING.

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now, hold onto your hats, cuz i’m about to wax poetic over a t-shirt pattern (i swear, no bribery was involved). so many times i do little more than grumble while making up a knits pattern, be it the giant seam allowances, unpredictable ease, or weird finishing techniques. not so here! and let me tell you why…

  • sizing: you pick your size from the garment’s finished (bust and waist) measurements. this allows you to choose either negative or positive ease, depending on your fabric. since this is a simple tee, you can easily grade between sizes if needed.
  • seam allowance: there is nothing i hate more than giant seam allowances on knit patterns. the SA on this tee is 1/4″, which makes it ideal for serging. BUT it’s also fine for a regular sewing machine, if that’s how you roll. also, it means less fabric waste and a better chance of fitting all the pieces onto less yardage. yeah!
  • neckband: i generally discard neckband pieces since knits have different stretch needs. however, this pattern has two neckband lengths determined by the amount of stretch your fabric has. don’t know how much stretch your fabric has? there’s a handy chart for you to test! for both of the tees i made, the neckband length was perfect.
  • directions: this pattern does not assume that you already know what you’re doing. if you’re a bit unsure or just don’t have a solid grasp on knits sewing, be not afraid.
  • drafting: all the pieces fit together nicely. the sleeve cap has basically no ease, as it should be. it sets in flat quite easily. so easily you barely even need to pin.
  • options: there are sleeve length options, neckline options, neck band width options… no need to guess to make those little customizations.
  • print layout: there’s a chart so you have the option to print off only the pages you need. guys. this i love. once upon a time i made a .pdf pattern where i had to print off over 60 pages, most of which i did not need. and well… i won’t re-hash that saga, but let’s just say that i was not pleased.

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there’s something strangely thrilling about making (and wearing) my own tees. not only are they a quick project, but they get worn all. the. time. if you’re looking for a good tee pattern, or just dipping your toes into the knits game, this one is worth your time!

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there’s lots of great ladies posting on the tour, also up today is Kat at sew chibi. make sure to check it out! need a copy of the pattern? pick it up here.

thanks to Adrianna for inviting me on the tour!

—lisa g.

ten

today is the last day of school for the kiddos. the last month of school is such a crazy time filled with activities and shows and events at school. not to mention the fact that the hubbs and i road-tripped it down to NYC last thurs/friday (more on that later!!). it’s always a relief to be on the other side, but of course that means they will all be home alllll day… it always takes a while to adjust, and no doubt they’ll be at each other’s throats in no time.

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so the “ten” alluded to in the title refers to my oldest daughter who just turned the big one-oh. ack! double digits! i always try to make the kids something for their birthday, so i picked up a rayon challis in a fabric that is totally her. i started with the cali faye collection wednesday dress, but i utterly underestimated the fabric needed. to compensate, i cut the pattern down to a blouse length and narrowed the sides to fit the fabric. there is still plenty of swing, and it worked out perfectly.

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certainly doesn’t look like much on the hangar

i skipped the cutout on the back since the fabric has so much drape, and instead left a long opening closed with a button in the back. then, i shaped the hem with a slight high/low thing happening.

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she wore it to school on her birthday and when i asked what her friends thought, she told me (exasperatedly) the class practically lined up to tell me they loved my shirt. even my teacher! she’s not one who is comfortable with a lot of attention, but it totally made my day. :)

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as far as sizing goes, based on her measurements, she sits at about a size 6 in width, but almost 10 in height. i find this utterly frustrating in kids clothing—RTW or patterns. i decided on a size 7, and would have lengthened to a 10 but… like i said, i didn’t have enough for the dress anyways. i was so bummed about that i went and bought a different fabric, which i successfully cut, and i can’t wait to sew it up so i can give a better review!

lisa g.