Thursday, April 27, 2017

Two summer shirtdresses: M6891

I was definitely not kidding when I said I tend to sew up a pattern twice!  Since I made this two dresses just days apart, I thought I would post them together :)
The pattern is McCall's M6891.  It's a good, classic shirtdress style with a convertible collar and pockets.  I love the full skirt, waistline seam, and ungathered back (why do designers do that??). Since it's a Palmer and Pletsch pattern, there are extensive directions for tissue-fitting and adjusting the pattern. The fit I achieved on the first go-round was good enough that I didn't have to make too many changes for the second version (though the fit was slightly different...).  

So I made the checked dress first with fabric purchased at Style Maker Fabrics.  The check has "running stitches" along some of the vertical and horizontal lines, which gives the fabric a bit more personality.  Unfortunately, after washing, the stitches shrunk a little more than the rest of the fabric, which gives it an overall slightly puckered look.  I'm okay with it, but I would have been happier without the extra texture.

 I did my best to match the pattern all around, but it wasn't always successful--quel domage!
For the closures, I used navy snaps from Snap Source--they worked perfectly!

The dress is so comfortable and cool, I can't wait to wear it all summer!
I chose this amazing linen fabric (on sale right now!) from Britex for my second version.  I had purchased the fabric for another purpose, but the plan quickly changed after my first dress.  I LOVE this fabric--it's linen, and while it looks a tad "rumpled", it doesn't get the serious wrinkles that other linens can get.

I went with the sleeveless option for this version.  Normally I don't love sleeveless garments, but it seemed to fit the style of the fabric and I'm sure I'll be appreciative of the extra cooling in the dead of summer. 

Somehow, this version is a bit tighter than the other, but it's still perfectly wearable.  I'm super pleased with the back coverage and the depth of the armhole.

Again, I had to worry about pattern matching, and I made a mistake!  If you look junction of the bodice and skirt, the colors are opposite.  Oops!  

Again, I used snaps (antique brass color, again from Snap Source).  In both versions, I added hidden snaps between the visible ones around the belly area to keep the placket from gaping.  These are tiny, clear plastic ones that are just perfect for this purpose (from Dritz). 
I love these two shirtdresses and I'm certain they're going to be a staple when the weather warms up a bit!  Bring on the summer!









Thursday, April 13, 2017

STYLE '17 + 40% off admission

I was contacted recently by the organizers of STYLE '17, asking if I would be interesting in attending the show April 29-30th.  Since I didn't know anything about the event, I checked out their website to see what types of artists and vendors might be there.  There are some really exciting and diverse crafts being represented (check out this jewelry maker's biology-inspired items!).  And when I saw that the show takes place in my town at the Computer History Museum, I was completely sold (I can even bike there!).   If you are near-ish and would like to come, the organizers are kindly providing 40% off to my readers (details at the bottom)!

Here's the official info from the organizers:

STYLE '17 – Silicon Valley’s celebration of independent design presents the jewelry, textiles, accessories and home goods designs of nearly 70 locally and internationally renowned artists in an exclusive two-day show, sale and benefit. You’ll find gorgeous one-of-a-kind and limited edition pieces with prices ranging from modest to luxurious. For a complete list of designers, go to www.style.lucentestudio.com

Your purchases support Art in Action, a national non-profit that provides visual arts curriculum to 75,000 students each year, including children in 185 Bay Area schools.

When:  Saturday, April 29 + 30, 10:30 am - 5:00 pm
Where:  The Computer History Museum, Grand Hall, 1401 N. Shoreline Blvd., Mountain View, CA

Weekend General Admission: $10 - Buy tickets online www.style.lucentestudio.com and save 40% off the general admission price when you use code NICOLE40 on the last page of the checkout.

Hope to see you there!

Wednesday, March 29, 2017

Draped silk blouse

I'm about halfway through my last semester at WVC and I am loving my draping class!  I've taken two flat pattern drafting courses, which were amazing too, but draping to create garment designs is just a whole different skill.   So much fun!
Since I work on a dress form that has a similar bust size as me, I can use certain class drapes as designs for myself.  Here's the original drape from our exercise in class (photographed on my personal form at home, though I did the actual draping on on the good Wolf forms at school).  


This is my first go at using a drape to make a garment out of fashion fabric and I'm so excited at the result (and the prospects for future garment designing!).    I didn't even bother copying it onto paper--I just used my muslin as the pattern.
Obviously, the huge benefit of draping directly on a form is that the result should fit perfectly. The dress forms at school are not exactly shaped like my body (or ANY body, for that matter), so that only works in theory (or for standard sizes).  My own form at home, however, has been padded and altered to be a better representation of the my shape, so I look forward to doing more designing on that.
The original draping exercise in class didn't offer a suggestion for closing the neckline.  I opted to go for a big ol' side bow as my closure, with long ties hanging down in the front and back.  I am in LOVE with this feature!


The fabric is some leftover silk crepe de chine (from this dress) from the 2nd floor (sale items!) of Stonemountain and Daughter in Berkeley.  It's perfect for this design!
We're starting our mid-term project next week and I've chosen something that I hope can be translated into a garment for myself (naturally!).  I suspect there is going to be lots of draping in my future!





  

Wednesday, March 22, 2017

Textured check Bronx dress

I have a thing, apparently.  If I like a pattern, I make it at least twice, in quick succession.  There are many examples, but this is the most recent instance; the Bronx cowl dress (see first version, here).
Clearly, I love this pattern.  More specifically, I love this silhouette and look for me.  A fit and flare dress just works with my every day life.  And again, for those that think dresses are fussy, count the number of garments I have to coordinate and put on my body.  Yup, that number is 1.  Easy-peasy.
Let's talk about the fabric, though; it is the true star of this garment (at least that's my impression based on the number of approving comments I received when I wore it!)  I purchased it last month with an allowance from Britex Fabrics and unfortunately, it's not available anymore.  I normally wouldn't pick a polyester knit, but I just adored the raised square texture!   The fabric is on the thick side--not quite a scuba knit, but with a good heft.  I don't think I'll enjoy the poly knit in the blazing heat of the summer, but it was very comfortable for our early spring temps.
Here's a close up of the tiny raised squares.  It's really fabulous!
Knowing that the fabric was a little thicker than my last version, I expanded the cowl a bit to help it drape better.  To do this, I slashed the pattern horizontally across the bodice at the bustline.  Then, I cut the remaining upper part vertically and expanded the cowl arc.  This expands the cowl while leaving the bust and waist measurements the same.  

I did want to break up the fabric print with  belt, so I added some belt loops at the side seams.  I just ran my serger while pulling the 4 threads to create a "chain" and then attached them to the dress on the inside.  If I don't feel like wearing a belt, I can pull the belt loops inside the dress to make them less visible from the outside.
I suspect I have a couple more of these dresses in my future, though perhaps using the scoop neckline and short sleeve variation for the summer.

I'm also realizing that my last bunch of posts have all been navy garments (and there is one more, I'm afraid!)  Navy is the new black :)




Friday, March 10, 2017

Cypress Cape

The Cypress Cape by Sewaholic hasn't been getting a lot of attention in the sewing blog world.  The style probably isn't for everyone, but the fact that it's different and interesting is why I was drawn to it in the first place.   Nevertheless, it took me a long time to actually sew it, despite buying the fabric right away (over a year ago!).

The delay was in part because the few people I showed the pattern to expressed "concern", but also there were always faster and easier things to sew first.  But perhaps most critical to the delay is that California had been, until this winter, in a serious drought and an unneeded garment wasn't high on the priority list.  So, with all the rains over the past few months, it became important to be well-outfitted for the CA monsoon season.

For the pattern, I sewed a size 0, which wasn't a good idea.  I was concerned about not being able to make petite adjustments, so I wanted to sew the smallest size possible (hey, it's a cape, right?).  It's actually a very fitted cape, at least around the chest and shoulders.  Size 2 or 4 probably would have been better, so I could more comfortably wear a sweater or vest underneath.  It's definitely wearable as-is, so no big loss.
The fabric is from Hart's Fabric in Santa Cruz (I bought it  year ago, so it's out of stock).  I's a pretty perfect fabric for this application.  The instructions call for nylon ripstop, but this fabric is a bit more thick and sturdy.  The drape is still good, though.  The color is definitely a bit metallic-irridescent.  
The only change I made was to turn under the hems, instead of using bias tape.  My primary motivation for this switch is because all I could think about was water dripping down the sleeves and making the cotton/poly bias all wet.  However, it also gave me the opportunity to shorten the jacket a bit to fit me better.  In the end, I like the look of it a lot better.
The zipper/ velcro closures design in the front look super professional, though it would have been nice to have the zipper go all the way up under the chin.

The back pleats turned out well, though they are generally hidden under the hood.

The one thing I don't love about the style is that it's not really possible to put a bag over your shoulder.  I end up keeping my handbag on my elbow, which I do a lot anyway, but you can't elegantly haul all your groceries while wearing this.   

Overall, sewing this cape was enjoyable and it's definitely fun to wear. I suspect the rain is done in CA for the season, but if not, between my last rain jacket and this one, I'm ready!