Sunday, August 30, 2015

From petal skirt to Best Dress Ever

When I made my petal skirt (no.5) from Drape Drape 2, I was struggling to find appropriate tops to wear with what was otherwise a pretty rad skirt.  So, at the suggestion of the lovely Kristin from Skirt as Top, I transformed it into a dress!  Seriously, this was the best advice because I am in LOVE.
Literally, I was so excited to do this thing that the next day I returned to the store and got some more fabric.
For the top pattern, I knew I wanted a slim-fit, simple cowl top to complement the draped skirt.  The main key was that I didn't want to add bulk.  Thankfully, I had just the top pattern on hand--my own! A while back, I drafted a cowl top as part of the Britex guest bloggers series.  The blouse pattern was originally drafted for a woven fabric, so I took in the sides and armscyes a bit for a closer fit.  
The armholes and back neckline are finished with self binding, and the top is attached to the original sparkly elastic waistband with a simple line of stitching .  
From afar, I didn't care for the white background of the original elastic, so I sewed on a band of elastic sequins (hastily whipstitched moments before our guests arrived for a cocktail party!).  Perfection.
I wish I could convey what an awesomely comfortable dress this is and how great I feel in it. Such a rare treat!  It felt completely appropriate running around barefoot while making drinks and chatting at our party, but I can also dress it up for date-night dinner with strappy silver heels.   Now I just have to figure out how to wash it....

Thanks again, Kristin, for the stellar idea!

2015 Resewlution, August garment #4

Tuesday, August 11, 2015

Drape Drape 2: skirt no. 5

I was relishing the finale of "The Great British Sewing Bee" (season 3) with a bowl of popcorn this evening, when I was surprised and thrilled to see that the contestants' first challenge was to sew the Drape Drape 2 no.2 top that I posted the other day!  It was the exact pattern!  It was so awesome. Even though the only version of the program I can find online in the US is pretty grainy and in a tiny format, I am in love with the show.  Could the contestants be any more kind and sweet?  Nope. And I didn't mind watching Patrick Grant throughout the episodes, either.  Now I'm just sad that it's over :(
Anyhow, I'm finishing up my informal three-garment tour of Drape Drape 2 with the petal miniskirt, no.5.  This is the garment that pushed me to purchase the book.  I haven't seen many versions on the interwebs, which was slightly concerning to me, but I took on the challenge anyway.
The garment is made from two large semi-circles, which are hemmed and then gathered and sewn to an elastic waistband.  Simple, right? No.  As it turns out, it's super important to actually make the markings and follow the instructions, which I failed to do the first time.  Also, I attempted to attach the skirt to a self-waistband, which just wasn't strong enough for the weight of all that gathered jersey.  Big fails.
So, I took it apart, removing about 1/2" from the top edge in the process (not a bad thing) and remade it, this time with tailor tacks and the book propped open for easy reference.  I also bit the bullet and bought a wide elastic waistband.  But not just any old elastic.  This one is sparkly silver!
With the skirt properly made, I like it.  It is very comfy and unusual (in a good way, I think!), but I don't love it for a few reasons.  First off, it's heavy.  I should make the waistband smaller, because it gets a bit stretched in the sewing process, and then with the heavy, heavy skirt panels, it s-l-o-w-l-y slides down.  Second, there are two layers of gathers around the whole skirt, so it adds some not-needed bulk in a bad area.  This is a bamboo-lycra, so perhaps a lighter-weight fabric would solve some of those problems.
Finally, I have no idea what to wear with it!  I've paired it with a plain white tank here, but I wouldn't leave the house in this outfit (except if I went out with the ladies for drinking+dancing!). The book shows it with top no.4, but that's a whole lot of fabric.  I'm considering venturing into the realm of sequins to make some kind of tank top...but that's pretty low on my sewing queue.
After this foray into draped garment goodness, I purchased Drape Drape and Drape Drape 3.  I couldn't choose, and why should I!?  So exciting!  

2015 Resewlution, August garment #3

Sunday, August 09, 2015

Drape Drape 2: no. 4

After my first go with the Drape Drape patterns, I had to make another!  This top, garment no.4,  is another single-piece garment with asymmetrical sleeves and dramatic side drape.  Here's the pattern piece on the floor:
I went with the sizing on the chart (L/XL), but should have cut the S/M.  After sewing the garment and taking these photos, I made adjustments to the hem, sleeve length and side seam that exactly mimic what the smaller size would have been.  
How incredible are the stripes as they move around the garment?  I aimed to have exactly horizontal stripes across the chest, and the rest fell according to the pattern.  The fabric is a bamboo lycra from my local fabric shop.
I raised the neckline by about 2" and it is still a little lower than I'd like, but perfectly wearable.
Here's the extended image (above)--the sleeves are significantly different in construction, so they do feel a little weird while wearing it.  But overall, the top couldn't be much comfier!  
Again, I'm seriously impressed with these patterns.  The product feels really fashion-forward and dramatic, without a huge amount of effort.  And with some high-end silk knits, the look could be even more amazing!  
No pattern matching here!  

The petal skirt is next on the docket!

2015 Resewlution, August garment #2

Friday, August 07, 2015

Drape Drape 2: dress no. 2

Have you guys tried any of the books in the Drape Drape series?  Even though it's a bit out of my standard sewing repertoire (to say the least!), I was seriously intrigued by the amazing, draped creations in these books.  Many are single pieces that are "origamied" (my word, made up :) into a garment.  I picked up Drape Drape 2, and three patterns immediately caught my attention.  With enough fabric to make Dress no. 2, I started with that one.  The dress is a tank-top style dress with a dramatic asymmetrical side drape.
First PSA for this pattern review: if you are considering trying these patterns, check the sizing carefully.  Based on the measurements, I am a large!  I went with L/XL for this pattern, but I think S/M would be better for this particular garment.
The dress is made of a single pattern piece (shown above on my dining room floor).  Tracing the pattern from the pattern sheets was a pretty significant challenge, which brings me to my second PSA: use a highlighter to go over the lines before trying to trace it!  This pattern is in three sections, which are taped together to make the giant, single pattern piece.
Without exaggeration, pattern prep is the most time consuming part of the process.  Sewing is relatively quick, with only a few seams, neck and armhole binding and the hem.  For me, the fit was a little large, especially at the armholes, so I took the sides in a lot to keep from showing too much bra. This definitely changed the shape of the dress, so I'll have to go back to the pattern and do proper adjustments!
The side drape is really lovely, and this is what it looks like stretched:
So the side drape isn't technically a pocket, but it's definitely a place to rest your hand :)  A corresponding pocket wouldn't be difficult to put in on the other side!

The fabric is a rayon-lycra jersey knit from Mood and is a great weight and hand for this sort of drapey project.
I thought I would have a hard time wearing something asymmetrical, but it's not so bad!  This dress is definitely interesting, comfortable and easy, so I think I'll work on the fit a bit and maybe give it a try in drapey silk jersey for dress up.  It's fun wearing a garment out of my standard wardrobe!

I've also sewn up blouse no. 4, and will share that soon!

2015 Resewlution, August garment #1

Friday, July 31, 2015

Really Maritime-y shorts

I bought this lovely chambray fabric (Robert Kaufman, Nautique Chambray) because anchors! I had ideas for a skirt which never materialized, and then felt inextricably drawn to the idea of making Grainline's Maritime Shorts with it because, well, anchors.  It's kitschy, sure, but once my mind latched on to that idea, there was no going back.  I could hardly justify buying a shorts pattern (especially since I have one in hand that I like!), except that I felt like if I didn't make *these* shorts, I may never use the fabric for anything, ever.
I am so happy I did buy the pattern!  These are not the same shorts as the others, clearly, the style is significantly different and more versatile, but also, Jen's drafting is just awesome.  After reading some reviews of the shorts being a little on the small side, I cut a size 2, grading up to a 4 at the waist. I made no other adjustments, and I am really pleased with the fit.
I added 2 full inches to the length, but then hemmed them about 1.5", so I'm not sure how much longer they actually are than the original.
I'm not usually one for patch pockets, but I went with the flow, and I kind of love the change of pace! And check out my pattern matching!  Very pleased with myself on that one and I'll be showing everyone my matching bottom :)
In other areas (uh, waistband), I made no attempts to pattern match and it shows :)  I never wear shirts tucked in, so no biggie.
Here's the zip and a glimpse of the insides.  I didn't construct the waistband as instructed, opting for a quicker and less bulky version we learned in pattern-making class--simply serge the bottom edge and sew down from the outside (either in the ditch or as topstitching, as for this garment).  Sometimes if I'm fancy, I'll add bias tape along the edge.  
For someone who doesn't like shorts, I've made a lot of them this summer...this is the end of that trend for this year.   Having satisfied my crazy obsession for really Maritime-y shorts, I can move on!

Sewing PSA of the day: did you know that NPR's This American Life is available as a 24 hour stream? That's what I listen to as I sew.  Give it a try!

2015 Resewlution, July garment #2

Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Sick-day PJs

Between the end of the school year for me and the kids, vacation on the East coast, and a general lack of interest in spending time in the hottest room in our house (my sewing room), I haven't been very productive, sewing-wise.  So, for my first day without kids (camp/ daycare) in a while, I was bummed when I came down with my a cold.  No one likes to be sick, however if I had to pick a day to fall ill, it would have been this day! With no work or children to tend to, I stayed in bed and read an entire book (The Martian, though not a typical choice for me :).  But I finished it around 2 p.m., and had a few more hours before kid pick-up.  Clearly, I needed to make a new pair of pajamas, in which I could convalesce for the remainder of my day!
Let's start with the fabric, since it's Liberty.  The print is "Sabrina".  (Okay, I just had to scroll through 8 pages of Tana Lawn prints to find this particular style, and sheesh, Liberty prints are gorgeous.)  The only thing more decadent than laying in bed and reading all day is a pair of Liberty cotton pajama bottoms.  Too bad I didn't have them on WHILE reading in bed all day!    
The pattern is a revision of something I drafted up a while ago.  With pockets, of course.  The pattern could use some more tweaking, but these certainly turned out wearable!
To do justice to this lovely, fine fabric, I used French seams all around, using this tutorial from Deborah Moebes for creating French seams with on-seam pockets.
French seam, with bottom corner of the pocket (hard to see!)
That's about it.  Not a difficult or exciting project by any means, but a good reentry into my sewing room.
I felt well enough today to knock something else off my summer sewing list....the excitement builds!

2015 Resewlution, July garment #1

Saturday, July 04, 2015

"Shorts on the Line" voting

Since I made them at the right time, I entered my Hawaiian print shorts into the "Shorts on the Line" sewing competition sponsored by Imagine Gnats.  I was so surprised to see that they made it to the top 21 for viewer's choice voting!  Woohoo!

Go check out all of the lovely shorts (men, women and kids!)  and vote for your 3 faves!