Denim Shirtdress | New Look 6487

I don’t browse the New Look selection very often, partially because I don’t like the website (though it is improved from the original re-design) and partially because they never go on sale like the Simplicity/McCalls $1-ish sales at JoAnn’s. In all fairness, the standard $5 price tag is super reasonable, so I should really peruse their selection more frequently. As a bonus—I never need to wait for a sale.

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The “tween” pattern New Look 6487 stopped me dead in my tracks, so I made sure to pick it up. It’s so cute! I love all the style options included. I’m sure it’ll be on repeat all year round—currently all three of my girls are asking for one version or another. Being the youngest girl, Isabella always gets the ratty hand-me-downs (poor thing!) so I try to make her something special every now and again. She happened to be with me when I bought the pattern and she loved this lightweight denim at JoAnn’s—perfect match. And seriously, this fabric is so nice and soft! I’m sure I’ll be going back for more.

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The smallest size is an 8, and she is very tiny as is (just shy of 9 yrs old), so I knew it would be big on her. I did not make any size alterations to the pattern because I figured it would be fine to be oversized now, and hopefully fit her better next year. I did eliminate the back pleat because I felt it was odd to have the pleat combined with the gathered skirt. Idk, maybe I’m just being weird, but I didn’t like it. Since there is plenty of volume as is, I simply shifted the back piece off the edge of the fabric, and did the same with the back skirt piece.

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The only other change I made was to cut different chest pockets. The pattern has a funky pocket shape and I wasn’t digging it. I keep pocket templates sitting around in my sewing room, so I just grabbed a kid sized pocket and used that.

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I just want to note how pleased I was with this pattern! The yoke, collar, and collar stand all have full size pieces, with the grain line correctly indicated. Frequently these pieces are cut on the fold and laid perpendicular to the grain, where they should be turned and cut with the grain. At least this is how it’s done in RTW, and also how David Coffin illustrates it to be done in his Shirtmaking book. Additionally, the neckline and collar pieces have 3/8″ SA’s, making it infinitely easier to assemble. I always cut down the SA’s if they are any wider than this, so it was nice that I didn’t have to fuss with changing it myself.

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Oversized or not, she is completely in love with this dress and has snuck in several wears before throwing it in the wash. It’s denim, so who am I to judge. She plans to layer it with leggings or tights and a long sleeve tee underneath so she can continue to wear it through the winter since you can’t easily stuff the sleeves into a sweater. All in all I am super pleased with how this dress came out, as is Isabella. I’ll definitely be sewing this one again, and *ahem* maybe making a knockoff for myself…

—lisa g.


TL;DR

PATTERN: New Look 6487
FABRIC: lightweight denim | JoAnn’s
SIZE: 8 (measurements for reference: 4’2″/22.5″/21.5″/24″)
MODS: eliminated back pleat, used different chest pocket
ALTERATIONS: none
NEXT TIME: no changes planned

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Rumi Tank Dress

Okay, it’s rare that I jump on a new pattern the minute it’s released, let alone print it, trace it, cut it out, sew it, and wear it all within 24 hours. Oh, and then blog it. RARE. But the stars aligned for me yesterday… I had ordered some rayon jersey from Craftsy (weird… all their solid rayon knits are gone now) and it just wasn’t the kind of rayon knit I was expecting. It is quite firm, has minimal stretch, and doesn’t drape in the way I expect a rayon knit to drape. To be honest, I’m not overly impressed with this fabric, and it just wasn’t going to work with my original plan.

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So I literally had this fabric out trying to figure out what to make with it, when I saw the Rumi Tank pop up on IG. It was a perfect match. I paused for a minute, I mean even on sale, it’s still almost $10 for a simple tank. But… I just went through all my paper patterns and got rid of a huge stack of them because the tissue was cut and therefore useless to me or anyone else, and was reminded of why .pdf patterns are so appealing. If I screw it up, I can always print off a new copy.

IMG_2892This is the first pattern from Christine Haynes that I’ve purchased, and I was very happy with the .pdf formatting. It printed in a very economical number of pages and everything matched up nicely. I traced off a size 6 at the bust and graded out to an 8 at the waist and hip. Given the flare of the skirt, grading between sizes wasn’t strictly necessary, but I did anyway. I raised the neckline by 1/2″ as a precaution (I am forever needing to raise necklines) but in this case it would have been fine as drafted. I skipped the color blocking at the hemline, and simply extended the length of the dress.

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The sizing feels spot on, and other than a little bit of pooling in the back, I’m perfectly happy with the fit. I’m so in love with the swingy flare of the hem. After all the swing dress posts I’ve been seeing lately, I’ve had them on my mind!

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I love how my dress came out, and I think this will be a very useful pattern. Also included is a regular tank top (less flare than the dress) and I’m sure I’ll be using it in the future as well. Really, this is an ideal summer dress for me since it’s casual enough that I don’t feel overdressed for the day to day mom stuff (side note: my 8 yr old said “Wow, you look fancy!” quickly followed by, “Well I guess it’s no different than pajamas…”), plus it’s breezy for the crazy heat we’ve been having. I’m ready to move on to Fall sewing, but oy! the heat and humidity is not going away! So not used to it out here in the Northeast.

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Here’s to the last days of summer…

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—lisa g.


TL;DR

PATTERN: Rumi Tank by Christine Haynes
FABRIC: rayon jersey from Craftsy (no longer available, and not really recommended)
SIZE: 6 bust, graded to 8 at waist and hip (measurements for reference: 5’8″/34″/27.5″/39″)
MODS: raised neckline by 1/2″ and extended hem to eliminate hem color blocking
ALTERATIONS: none
NEXT TIME: if I’m being fussy… I’ll remove length from CB to minimize pooling

Skater Dress | McCalls 7079

I recently picked up McCalls 7079 to make my oldest daughter (12 yrs) a casual dress. I love that this pattern has several different style options, from plain to a little more girly. This will be a very versatile pattern to have around!

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I let her pick out the combination she wanted, and she opted for short sleeves and a flared skirt. I was going to do the triangle back cutout, but decided to go with the plain back to check the fit first. Without the cutout she can easily pair this with leggings and cardigans for Fall.

The fabric I used is from Cali Fabrics. It’s a cotton/lycra and is perfect for this style. This was the first time I ordered from them, and I was pleased with the quick shipping and overall quality of the fabrics; I’ll definitely order from them in the future since they have such a large selection of knits. My only quibble with this fabric is that the black ink bled in places onto the white. I usually use a color catcher when washing fabrics like this, but I totally spaced. Overall, it’s not really noticeable, but something to note if you have this one in your stash.

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She generally wears a 12/14 in girls sizes, but her measurements put her all over the place for this pattern. I decided to sew a straight size 12 since I didn’t need to be overly fussed about fitting. This seems to have worked out just fine—it fits well through the shoulders, and still has some ease through the waist. Now, she’s not really into letting me closely examine her to check the more fine points of fitting (and this print is really busy, obscuring any fit issues from the casual observer) but I think she could use a little extra length in the bodice front.

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The sleeves have quite a bit of extra ease in the sleeve cap—more so than a knit tee requires—so I lowered the cap by about 3/8″ to remove some of it. Also, the sleeves have a 1″ hem allowance, which seems unusually deep, so I cut off 1/2″ and did my preferred 1/2″ hem.

The only other change I made was to the neckline. The instructions suggest that you double turn the neckline and top stitch in place (a 5/8″ hem allowance). I just really, really hate that type of finish, and looking at the few examples I found online, the neckline looks too wide to me. Changing nothing to the pattern, I simply added a 1/2″ neckband, sewn with a 1/4″ SA. With the neckband it looks more like a regular t-shirt neckline, and that’s really what we wanted anyway.

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Sleeve cap and neckline preferences aside, this is a great pattern, and I’m sure I’ll be using it frequently. My girls love this style of dress, and it’s so fast to sew up. Most importantly, she immediately declared it her “favorite dress ever!” so. That’s a win.

—lisa g.


TL;DR

PATTERN: McCalls 7079
FABRIC: cotton/lycra from califabrics.com (available here)
SIZE: 12 (measurements for reference: 5’0″/32″/24.5″/31.5″)
MODS: added neckband
ALTERATIONS: lowered sleeve cap
NEXT TIME: add length to front bodice

Salme Buttonless Shirtdress

Oh hey there! I’ve been pretty low on blogging motivation as of late, but maybe Spring will put me back in the mood for taking pictures and whatnot. Life took a (somewhat) unexpectedly crappy turn this year, but hopefully we’ll be back in the swing of things shortly. Fingers crossed!

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Anyway, I’ve been in the mood for a new spring/summer dress. I really want to make a proper shirtdress, but time and motivation lacking, I decided to try the Salme Buttonless Shirtdress; a  pattern I bought ages ago but never got around to sewing. It’s a pullover shift dress with a loose fit and collar band. It’s a nod to the shirtdress without quite going all the way. I think it was the gathers at the neckline that sent this pattern into MUST HAVE territory for me, because I adore that small detail.

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This is the first time I’ve made a Salme pattern, and tbh, I haven’t seen many people sewing them up. I don’t know why though, the designs are all really classic and they come in at a very reasonable price ($6-8). Based on my measurements, I cut a 6 at the bust, 8 at the waist, and 10 at the hip. If you’re in between sizes it would be pretty safe to size down. This dress has plenty of ease, but not overwhelmingly so.

I feel like maybe the patterns are drafted for someone a bit taller than average. The bust dart and arm holes are a solid 1″ too low. It’s fairly common for me to remove length above the bust, so this isn’t a huge surprise. Also, I typically add length to hemlines, but here I shortened it by 1″ and it still hits just above my knees (I am very long from waist to knee, fyi).

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Since the bust dart was so low, I decided to unpick the side seam and dart and re-sew the dart angled up by 3/4″. This worked alright for a quick and dirty fix—at least the dart is headed in vaguely the right direction now. I wasn’t super fussed about getting a perfect fit, so while I couldn’t do anything about the low armhole at least the bust dart is passable. The only criticism I have of this pattern is that there isn’t a marking for where to start the neckline gathers. I just guessed and tried to make sure it was even on both sides. Oh, and you do have to add seam allowances. That’s not a negative in my opinion, but I know it’s a deal breaker for some.

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The fabric I used is a linen, rayon, poly blend from Joanns. Isn’t the color divine? I hesitated for a moment because it’s so bright, but I’m glad I went with it. I’m typically not attracted to solid colored fabrics (must buy all the pretty prints!) but when I get dressed in the morning I always wish I had more solids to choose from.

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Bottom line on this one… LOVE. This is such a versatile dress that would be equally suited to a summer BBQ as it would a date night. It isn’t fussy, and it feels very chic. With shirtdresses all the rage these days, I would think this would be a very popular pattern. Anyone else been sewing up Salme Patterns? I’ll definitely be paying more attention to their offerings in the future.

lisa g.

Christmas dresses

I didn’t have any grand plans to make a new dress for Christmas this year, but the stars (and a couple stashed and scrap fabrics) aligned and boom—New Dress. It’s been so long since I made a simple fitted bodice/full skirt dress that I forgot how much fun it is! To be honest, I could use a few new dresses like this. It’s been years since I was in the “always sew dresses” phase of sewing, and it would be nice to have my wardrobe better reflect my current tastes.

All these photos were taken on Christmas Eve… I thought about retaking proper blog pics but I figured that wasn’t likely to ever happen!

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Anyway, I cut the bodice from the skirt of a failed dress from a long time ago. It’s a cotton sateen I picked up for $4/yd at a local shop eons ago. Despite the bargain price, it happens to be really nice fabric. The skirt is also a cotton sateen that I bought a year and a half ago from the same shop. It was one of those cool fabrics I stumbled upon and just had to take home with me. I always had this particular dress in mind, but never took the time to sew it up until now.

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I didn’t use a single pattern, but rather a combination of two. The bodice is highly tweaked and modified from it’s origins as the Colette Patterns Hawthorn. I spent so much time fitting that pattern perfectly that I traced it off and altered the design details (eliminated the button front, made a scoop neckline, added CB seam for a zipper) to work as a kind of bodice sloper. So glad I did, because it was there right when I needed it. For the skirt I used McCalls 6833 (previously used HERE) because I love the deep pleats, and the hemline is straight—perfect for this sort of print.

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This is the only side view photo I have… no idea what’s going on here!

I drafted an all-in-one facing for the bodice, which I cut from a plain cotton since I didn’t have enough of the sateen. I could have fully lined the bodice, but I just really like facings, especially with a thicker fabric like this sateen. I didn’t line the skirt, but I plan to add a lining in the future to keep it from sticking to my tights.

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I also made a quick dress for my oldest daughter, Anastasia. I used the Flashback Skinny Tee as a base, chopped off at the waistline. This tee is cut straight down at the sides, so I brought the side seams in at the waist, and curved the front waistline down a tad so it wouldn’t ride up in the front. I did a narrow binding at the neckline, and drafted a half circle skirt. The dress is still a little big, but she’s 11 and bound to grow. 😉 The fabric was purchased from Joann’s. It’s a thick stable knit, but thinner than a ponte. It has a hint of shimmer, which makes it a little special.

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As it turns out, everyone was wearing a garment I had made at some point! The grey wrap sweaters were from two years ago (and finally fit like they’re supposed to!), the white dress is a first communion dress I shortened to a more casual length, the green dress I made five or six years ago, my son’s button down was made over a year ago, and even my husband’s shirt was made by me.

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Happy 2016, everyone!

lisa g.

a very floral McCalls 7242

Summer really lingered in my neck of the woods, so for all of September I had a hard time starting projects. I just wasn’t inspired to sew much! It was hot, so I wanted to make summer stuff, but I knew it was only a matter of time before cold temps showed up. Finally, the weather turned the corner and I’m feeling like I know what I want to sew again. When McCalls made their Fall release, I fell in love with, and immediately picked up M7242.

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I go particularly weak in the knees for a floral print on a dark background, so this felt like a perfect pattern/fabric match. In the beginning, I had grand plans for making the dramatic long-sleeved maxi version, but this is a very bold print, so my gut told me to pick either the sleeves or the maxi  length. I was close to ditching the sleeves, but in the end I loved them too much to leave them off, especially since this fabric has a very Fall look to it.

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I cut down the skirt length, but flared it out to have more volume than the shorter version provides (this is longer than the shorter version of the pattern, btw). I actually didn’t do this pattern alteration correctly, so the skirt doesn’t fall like I had wanted; I may go back in and take some of the fullness out later, since it mostly hangs at the sides. In retrospect, I really wish I would have just done view B and added the ruffle to the bottom. Totally forgot about that option when I was cutting! Maybe I’ll just have to make this dress again… 🙂

CONSTRUCTION

I was very pleased with the construction of this dress. Sometimes you end up with really odd finishing techniques in Big 4 patterns, but not so here. The elastic casing at the waist is particularly genius, in my opinion. Instead of joining the bodice and waist, finishing the edges together, then topstitching (as with the Saltspring, if you’re familiar with that) you are able to conceal all the raw edges very neatly and bulk-free. Here you sew the bodice and skirt together with a 1″ SA, then trim down the SA on the bodice side. Then on the skirt SA you turn and press the edge in 1/4″, press it all up to the bodice, then edge stitch it in place (here’s photo on IG to show the inside finish). So neat! I’ll be stealing this method for future elastic waist finishes.

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The neckline is finished with a facing, then the rounded collar is added. I love this little collar stand since it sits nice and flat. It’s actually tempting to take the bodice and alter it to a blouse… it would be very easy to do.

There is a tiny bit of hand sewing necessary. The pattern instructs you to hand sew the inner yoke, whereas I prefer the burrito method, as in traditional button up shirts. Then the neckline facing is hand sewn to the yoke seam. The inner collar piece is also hand sewn down. I could have top stitched the collar piece, but my fabric is a rayon twill and things get real shifty and uncooperative real fast; sometimes a bit of hand sewing is less aggravating in the end, so I went with it.

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The last thing I thought I’d mention—the pattern has the button holes positioned horizontally instead of vertically. Since this dress gives off a definite shirt dress vibe (back yoke with pleat, collar, etc), I did mine vertically. It just made more sense to me, though it would probably be fine either way.

FIT

I went down one full size from my measurements, grading from a 10 at the shoulder/bust to a 12 at the waist. Since I didn’t muslin first, I pulled out my trusty Archer to get an idea whether or not I would need to make alterations. I frequently have to shorten armhole depth and raise necklines, but not this time! The shoulder line falls slightly off my shoulder, but it also does so on the model on the envelope, so I’m thinking it’s just part of the design.

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The sleeves are very bell shaped, so I cut a size 10 sleeve but graded down to a 6 at the wrist to eliminate some fullness but still keep the general silhouette. I typically need to add at least 1″ to sleeves but kept these as drafted so they wouldn’t be too billowy.

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FINAL THOUGHTS

I’m pretty in love with this dress, and am particularly enamored with the 70’s vibe happening. I left the length longer than I usually would for dresses and skirts, but it seemed the right thing to do for the silhouette. If I made this pattern again, I may narrow and top stitch the facings down. It’s not that they want to pop out, but they do catch on my bra and I end up needing to adjust them every once in a while. This isn’t a major annoyance, just something I noticed. Overall, I found the pattern to be well-drafted and genuinely fun to sew! Seriously. I’m trying to stop myself from ditching the Halloween sewing for the kiddos and immediately start making this pattern again!

—lisa g.

a very loud alder shirtdress

Hey guys! June was a major whirlwind around these parts, with school finishing up and the accompanying busyness that ensues. Then we took off for our family vacation as soon as school was out and were gone for almost two weeks. We drove cross country, from (west of) Boston all the way to my home town in the middle of Kansas. It’s about a 24 hour drive, but with kids who have bladders the size of a walnut, it ends up being much, much longer. Oy. Not my favorite trek, but flights to KS (for a family of six) are just crazy expensive. We managed to visit some friends and family both coming and going in order to convince ourselves that it was worth the effort!

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Anyway, we’re back now, so here is a Grainline Studio Alder Shirtdress I furiously sewed up before our trip. I jumped on this pattern the second it came out, but have only sewed it up once. THE SHAME! But I’ve had a hard time finding the right fabric since I needed it to be opaque, but not so stiff that it would be difficult to gather or not hang nicely. My dive of a fabric shop, Sewfisticated, stepped up to the plate and delivered this super awesome fabric. It’s a cotton sateen, but light weight enough to be a shirting fabric. It has the right drape and it’s perfectly opaque and the pattern is a large scale paisley. I could hardly believe my luck! Man I love that shop. Hardly anything is priced above $4/yd, unless it’s silk or wool.

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As I cut the dress out, I began to doubt my choice of admittedly very loud fabric. However, giant paisley=awesome so I kept at it. I’m very glad I did, because I think it’s a super fun dress. It wasn’t super fun finding buttons though. Purple is a pretty difficult color to match, and JoAnn’s yielded nothing. Shocking. Eventually I found something passable at Fabric Basement. Is it too picky to say that I prefer a four hole button when it comes to button ups? I suppose it can be forgiven since it’s a women’s dress and not a men’s shirt, but whatever. Random note: The pattern and website says you need 9 buttons, but you actually need 10. I had to leave off the last buttonhole because my buttons came in a pack of 3, and thus I only bought 9 buttons!

Fitting tweaks:

I’ve made view A before, so I had a good idea of the fitting tweaks I would need. I cut a 6 in the bodice with a teeny tiny SBA. To be honest, I probably wouldn’t even need to bother because the dart is fairly small to begin with. On the front, I graded the side seam out to the 8 (per my measurements) but left the back at a 6. My lower back is narrow and I would have been tempted to add darts for shaping, so I figured keeping the smaller size would have similar effect. Last time I raised the bust darts and armholes, but really what I needed was a petite adjustment, which is easier anyway. I shortened the bodice above the bust by 1/2″ and now everything is in place. I think I still added 1/4″ or so the the armholes, because I detest low armholes. Also, I feel as though I should raise the pockets by another 1/2″ or so, because the current placement kinda flattens my chest a bit, visually.

For the skirt portion, I cut a 10 (per my hip measurement). Then I sliced and lengthened the skirt by 1″ at the L/S line. I do wish I had another 1/2″ to 1″ in length, because I feel a bit exposed as is. The side curves up and feels really short, but I love the swoop of the back hemline. I carry my width in my thighs, so I feel mildly porky with my small upper body, skinny ankles, but thick thighs. Oh well… I will continue to wear this dress and hopefully make a few more in time!

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So that’s that. Great pattern, fit, style… everything. I’ll be sewing this up every time I find Alder-appropriate fabric!

—lisa g.