floral neoprene dress | M6754

I snagged this digital print neoprene from a local fabric shop for a few dollars a yard. I had no idea what I was going to do with it at the time—impulse buy if there ever was one. Not long after I was digging through my pattern stash and pulled out McCalls 6754. A quick consult on IG as to whether or not it was too loud (haha nobody ever says “no!”) and I was off and running.

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This pattern was fairly popular a while back, so I had a handful of reviews to check out. Most people gave it the usual “too big” review, and many complained of the straps being too wide set. Usually McCalls has finished measurements on the tissue, but not this one. I didn’t want the bodice to end up too tight (neoprene is stretchy, but not crazy stretchy) so I aimed for about zero ease. My measurements put me in a Medium in the bust, and a Large at the waist/hip.

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After measuring the pattern pieces, I went with a Small , but added about a half inch to each side seam, and cut a Medium in the skirt. The bodice has a fairly large waist dart, so I reduced the dart, then removed the same amount from the side seam. I should have just done a standard SBA, but I guess I was feeling lazy. To fix the wide strap issue I simply nudged the strap in by a 1/4″, blending into the original neckline and armhole. I also raised the back neckline by 1″, and the front by 1.5″. One inch in the front probably would have been sufficient, but I wanted to keep it at a comfortable height. The back bodice is drafted with a CB seam, but since there was no back shaping I cut it on the fold (same with the skirt). Lastly, I raised the armhole by 3/8″ and blended into the original seam line.

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I’m not big on the “turn and stitch” method for knit necklines, so I trimmed the seam allowances down to 1/4″, and used strips of knit fabric to do a bias facing type finish. Then, I topstitched all the bindings on my coverstitch.

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I constructed the bodice on my sewing machine and serged the seams after. Since there is only width-wise stretch, there was no point in using the serger for vertical seams. Plus, I wanted to be able to adjust the side seams if necessary. I did use the serger to attach the skirt; there is no zipper in this dress, so I needed to keep the waistline stretchy.

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I did a simple rolled hem on the serger to finish the hemline. I didn’t see any point in fighting with the fabric and trying to press and top stitch a hem—this stuff can’t hold a crease. (Okay, I say it can’t hold a crease, but after cutting I noticed there were some wrinkles in the fabric I couldn’t press out. Probably why I found it in my discount fabric shop to begin with!) While cutting, I added an extra inch to the length just to be on the safe side. Coupled with my lack of hem, the skirt is basically lengthened by 1 5/8″.

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I am completely in love with how the dress came out. It’s so bright, and spring-like, and fun! Initially I was worried that the skirt would end up too sticky-outtie in the neoprene, but it ended up with just the perfect amount of body. This pattern is definitely made for heavier knits like ponte, doubleknit, and neoprene. I wouldn’t bother with any fabric lighter than those.

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obligatory.

As far as the sizing, my alterations did the trick and I’m happy with the fit. I still have maybe 1″ of ease at the waist, but I’m okay with that. One thing that would have saved me some trouble would have been doing a petite adjustment above the bust. I haven’t quite figured out how much I need to remove (somewhere around 3/8-1/2″) but I think it’s time to add that to my standard list of adjustments. That will save me some of the neckline, bust dart, and armhole raising I’m always doing. And I’ll probably go back and do a real SBA instead of my cheater one. I can definitely see myself coming back to this pattern—it’s super quick to make and I like using the heavier fabrics since it’s less clingy over the lumpy bits. 🙂

—lisa g.

McCalls 6948

Making tiny dresses for my girls has a way of becoming very addictive. Not many fit issues to worry about, small yardage, and quick to make. I bought this blue rose fabric last fall-ish, rescued from the clearance table at Joanns. It’s one of those rare sightings of rayon challis—wish they’d stock more of this instead of all the nasty poly prints they have in so much abundance. I really planned to use this fabric for myself, but the scale of the print seemed either too big or too small… just right for a pint size dress though. 🙂

I took these photos just over a week ago… that white stuff was our last little pile of snow!

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McCalls 6948 was just the ticket. Seriously cute pattern if you have girls to sew for! It’s kind of like a mini Sewaholic Saltspring, complete with several variations. My girls are all asking me for maxi skirts or dresses, so I decided to make the variation that has a faux-wrap skirt. It’s nice and long in the back, but shorter in the front so it’s runaround friendly. I’m always worried about them tripping in longer skirts otherwise. (True confession… I totally spaced on cutting the front skirt pieces on the correct grain. The CF should be on the straight of grain, but I lined up the side seam on the straight by mistake. Oops!)

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I fully lined the dress instead of doing a bias facing on the neckline and sleeves. The fabric probably would have been okay without a lining, but it was just right on the line for opacity. To line the skirt, I omitted the wrap and simply marked 2″ above where the front panels overlap, and cut it on the fold. I kept the back skirt lining short as well, since there was no need to make the lining as long as the dress.

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For sizing, I cut a 4, then slashed and lengthened to the size 6, and cut a straight size 6 skirt. The neckline is borderline too low for what I’d expect in a kid’s pattern, so that’s something to watch out for. Overall, it came out a little bigger than I was anticipating, but it should fit her for quite a while.

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This pattern gets a huge thumbs up from me, and an even bigger thumbs up from my girl. I think she’s worn it three times already, and is always swan-ing around and letting the skirt flap around dramatically. I’m sure I’ll be using this pattern many more times!

—lisa g.

pencil me in | NL 6107

Hey guys! I thought spring would never make it to my neck of the woods. After the epic and record-breaking winter of snow and cold, it looks like we’re finally thawed and back in business! How better to celebrate than by wearing a loud floral print?

So, I really thought pencil skirts were just never going to work for me, and for the longest time, I didn’t care all that much. Even though I love the look of a pencil skirt, it’s just not something I have all that much use for. However, I’ve had pencil skirts and sheath dresses on my mind lately, and I had this fantastic floral cotton sateen so… I decided to give it a shot.

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my photos are all a bit squinty-eyed… not gonna complain about the sunshine though!

I went through my patterns and found New Look 6107. I slapped together a muslin and while it wasn’t awful, I knew there was something wrong—I just couldn’t put my finger on what it was, or how to go about fixing it. I was going to scrap the idea, but I threw “pencil skirt fitting” into google and out spat a pencil skirt fitting post from the ever-lovely Gail, of Today’s Agenda. How could I have forgotten that amazing post?!

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Reading that was a huge “ah-ha!” moment, so I went back to my pattern and made a few adjustments. For the longest time, I thought that it was my backside giving me fit issues. Turns out that was only a tiny part of the equation. What was really throwing off the fit was my tummy and prominent thigh, leading me to the Full Tummy Adjustment, and the Prominent Thigh Adjustment. Gail describes these perfectly, so if you’re interested in the nitty gritty, just check out her post.

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I adjusted my pattern and went ahead and cut my fabric. I basted everything together first to check the fit. Initially I overdid the prominent thigh adjustment, so I took everything apart and backed down on how much I added. While the fit isn’t yet perfect, I at least know what to do about it now!

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This sateen is a cotton/lycra blend, so it has a decent amount of stretch. Unfortunately, it bags out fairly quickly, so if I do any amount of sitting it gets saggy looking. Also, the waistband came out a bit too big, so I really should go back in and adjust that. During construction, I sewed each waistband piece to the corresponding skirt piece and sewed the side seams all in one (skirt, waistband, facing) so altering it won’t be difficult.

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FYI, there was nothing special about this particular pattern; darted pencil skirt patterns are a dime a dozen. Aside from the aforementioned alterations, I added 1/4″ of width into the back dart, lengthened the skirt by 1″, and pegged it about 3/4″ at each side seam. I did choose my size based on finished measurements, because the pattern stated that there was 3 1/2″ of ease at the hip—hilarious! This thing would have been falling off me, had I gone by the size chart. In the future, I think I would add a little more to the back dart, possibly splitting it into two darts, and lengthen the skirt even further. There were two lengths offered in the pattern, and I went with the shorter. Adding an inch in length is pretty standard for me. I think perhaps another two inches in length would be nice.

So that’s about all I have on that. I’m super happy that I don’t have to avoid slim skirted patterns any more, now that I’ve got a handle on the necessary adjustments. Yay sewing!

lisa g.

Easter dress no. 3 | Simplicity 1510

Finally, here is the last Easter dress for this year. My oldest daughter, Anastasia, the only one who actually required a new dress, turns up her nose at anything too girly. She does like dresses and skirts, she just insists that they not be too poofy. We flipped through patterns together, and Simplicity 1510 really caught her eye.

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Purple has always been her favorite color, so when I saw this linen Ikat leaf print at Joanns, I knew she would approve. Like my other girls, she is narrower than she is tall on the sizing chart. She measured about an 8 in width, and 10 in height. I slashed the bodice horizontally and added 1/2″ in length. I kept the armhole depth at the size 8, as she’s built somewhat like me—more petite in the upper body, but longer from the waist down. For the skirt, I simply extended the length down to the size 10.

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This is a cute little pattern, and I love the pleating at the waistline. The bodice hits close to the natural waist in the back, but curves up to a more empire shape in the front. I know it’s difficult to see the details because of the print, so check out the line drawing so you can see the style better.

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The pattern came together very quickly and easily, however, there is an error in the line drawing. It shows that the princess seams should line up with the pleats, but they do not. It does line up with the pleated edge on the inside of the dress, so just be aware of that if you’re looking to make this pattern. Other than that little glitch, I’m very pleased with the pattern! I find that in the McCalls and Simplicity kids patterns, you have to pay close attention to the body measurements (waist, chest, and height!) and ignore the size number. I feel kind of crazy for making a size 8 for my nearly 11-yr old, average-sized daughter, but there you have it. It fits well and she’s sure to wear it often.

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Whew, all that dress sewing just makes me want to sew more dresses… it’s so addictive! Now it’d be great if we could conjure up some Spring weather. The last few patches of snow are just now melting!

—lisa g.

Easter dress no. 2 | New Look 6118

Even though I had bought a couple potential Easter dress fabrics, none of them were really inspiring me for kid dresses. In desperation, I hit up Joanns and remembered their (surprisingly good) linen selection. Isabella is a tiny 7-yr old, and she wanted fabric that “wasn’t too pink.” She prefers yellow and blue, and she’s loudly intolerant of anything that doesn’t meet her expectations. Fortunately, she approved of my fabric choice!

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I choose New Look 6118 because I like the high neckline of the front paired with the dramatic scoop of the back. Also, this bodice had no darts or shaping, which is perfect for my very straight-torso’d daughter. I had wanted to do a gathered skirt, but she insisted on twirly, like her sister’s dress. Can’t blame her for that!

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This girl is absolutely tiny. She’s always under the 10th percentile for weight, and 20th for height. This makes both buying and sewing clothes for her a real challenge. I only recently pulled the last of the 4T sizes from her closet, mostly on principal and the fact that her closet is stuffed with hand-me-downs, not because they no longer fit. On the NL size chart, she measured about a 4 in width, but a 6 in height. To make it work, I cut out a 4 and then lengthened the bodice pieces. Even at that, the dress is plenty roomy, but it should fit through the whole spring and summer.

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I ditched the back buttons and inserted an invisible zip instead. The fabric print is busy enough, I didn’t need buttons for any special effect. For the 3/4 circle skirt I was able to use the same draft from her sister’s dress, just slightly adjusted to fit this bodice.

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The hem is finished with bias tape. It both gives the hemline structure, and makes it super easy to hem. Plus, it was a way to sneak in the yellow she wanted.

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This dress is getting high marks from the girl, and I’m super happy with it as well! As tempting as it was to skip the pattern alterations, it just wouldn’t have fit otherwise. I mean, yeah, that’s a pretty obvious statement, but I guess I’m lazy when it comes to sewing for the kids!

—lisa g.

Easter dresses no. 1 | Burda 07/2014 #136

I decided to make Easter dresses for my girls this year. I have to say, it is pretty nice having three girls to sew up pretty dresses for… keeps me from making myself a bunch of dresses I don’t need. I had a hard time finding good springtime cottons, despite searching my local haunts. It seems these fabrics don’t always show up in stores early enough for me to plan for Easter sewing. I could have ordered online, but eh. Shipping costs are such a buzzkill. I ended up buying a high quality ponte from Fabric Basement. This print was perfect for daughter number 2, Sylvia. She immediately fell for this fabric, and demanded it be hers. Okay, child, yours it shall be.

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I wanted to make her something more special than the typical skater dress, so I decided to try Burda 07/2014 #136. I love how the princess seams go straight into the straps, which have a slight cap sleeve. I ditched the sweetheart neckline and adjusted it to be straight-ish (it actually has a slight curve).

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The pattern calls for a woven, so I sized down in the bodice, but added length so it would hit her waist correctly. The ponte has great drape, but it gets bulky very quickly. For this reason I skipped lining the bodice, and instead drafted an all-in-one facing. I feel pretty clever for drafting out the bodice seaming and maneuvering the square neckline as neatly as I managed. *pats self on back*

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I drafted a 3/4 circle skirt because she likes twirly, and a gathered skirt would be far too bulky and heavy. I measured the skirt length of a dress in her closet and drafted accordingly, but we had not yet gone to her annual doctors appointment where I found out that she grew 3″ in the past year (whut?!) so… oops.

To preserve all the length I did a simple 3-thread (no stitch finger) serged finish on the edge. I think this ended up being a good thing because the ponte probably wouldn’t have hemmed nicely with such a rounded hem anyways.

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Even though this is a knit dress, I did all the construction on my sewing machine. The fabric is really too thick for the serger, plus I wouldn’t have had the control and precision needed to navigate the neckline. I also kept the invisible side zip to make sure the waistline didn’t get strained and risk popping stitches.

I am so happy with how this dress came out! It’s feminine while still giving her the comfort to move around and not feel restricted. FYI, Burda also has a women’s version of this pattern—um, yes, please!

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—lisa g.