Wednesday, May 18, 2016

Astoria sweater + swishy skirt = new fave outfit

This rayon from Britex caught my eye, and I just couldn't shake it.  It's not a typical color palette or print for me, but I had to have it and I knew exactly what I'd make with it: a dirndl skirt.  A dirndl is not my favorite silhouette, but with this fabric, it all just felt like good fun for the summer.

The pattern for the skirt was self-drafted, using the Maritime Shorts waistband as a rough guide.  I getting old and fluffy about the mid-section, so I just can't handle a non-contoured waistband anymore.  The rest of the skirt is literally just two full-widths of the fabric (the back one cut in half for the center back seam/zipper).  
The lightweight rayon allowed for huge volumes of gathers without being very bulky, which makes the skirt extra swingy.  I accidentally walked in front of a fan at a dinner party and nearly had a "Marilyn moment".    But it's fun, and super light--perfect for summer.  
Of course there was only one top option in my wardrobe to wear with this circus-tent print of a skirt, and I didn't love it, so I bought the Astoria sweater pattern (Seamworks).  The slightly cropped, slightly vintage, and really simple design were a prefect match for the skirt.  Love the wide waistband and 3/4 sleeves! 
I made the top in a light-medium weight French terry (not sure where I got it), but I think it must be a blend because it has a lovely sheen to it.  
Applying what I've learned from other Seamwork/ Colette patterns, I made some alterations to the armscye and sleeve pieces, and took in the sides a smidge, but otherwise sewed a straight size 0.  While I would normally do a petite-adjustment in the bodice, I did not and the length was just perfect (For anyone taller than 5'1", you may want to lengthen the bodice a tad.)
I really love how the wide waistband angles out ever so slight at the hem.  It makes a world of difference keeping the top from creeping upward.  The neckband doesn't lay flat, but I think that adds to the vintage feel of the top.
I timed myself once I started and it took 50 minutes to sew--true to the claim that it's an hour project. (And even though I did it all just this morning, I cannot remember if that includes cutting time. Sheesh.)
While the sweater is a bit warm for out current "heat wave" in NorCal and in the depths of summer, it will be perfect for the other 340 days of the year.  I'm already scouting other rayons for more swishy skirts.

Pockets!  It's a little hit or miss with pocket height at the side seam when I'm drafting myself, but these are at a good level.  
So here's the problem with a skirt as "distinctive" (read: loud) as this: I can't wear it all the time!  Kind of a bummer.  I'll be wearing it as much as is socially acceptable :)  
** The fabric was purchased with an allowance from Britex, thereby enabling my addiction to fabric!  

Friday, May 13, 2016

Adelaide #2 in double gauze

For Mother's Day, we set out to Santa Cruz for a lovely brunch at Gabriella Cafe (wonderfully adorable place, and worth the drive!).  We got to SC early and I could request anything I wanted on my special day, so I made my family take me to Hart's Fabric for a 20 minute, whirlwind shopping spree.
This amazing double gauze by Kokka ended up in my basket, originally intended to be another Hayden top.  Somehow, I must have requested the wrong amount and when I got home, I realized I had 2.5 yards of the stuff!  Change in plans--the fabric was going to be a dress!  At 45" wide, it was enough, with not much left over.
Crazy stuff: the day after my post about the drafting changes I made to the armscye of the Adelaide Dress, Colette released an addendum with a revised version of the pattern!  Clearly, it had nothing to do with me, but it was nice to see they take the feedback from their users seriously.  The fixed both the strap angle and the armscye draft!
I sewed this dress earlier this week, but waited a couple days to finish it while I waited (not very patiently, I might add) the 2 days it took for Snap Source to ship my navy snaps.  Unfortunately, the "capped prong ring" type that I bought don't work with my snap pliers--they are too small for the pearl snap attachment and too bit for the normal ring attachment.  So, I improvised and put a scrap if thick fabric in the pearl snap attachment and it worked.  I am determined to never resort to the blue pound-with-a-hammer tool again.
I wanted to have snaps that blended in with the fabric so I could wear the dress with a particular belt, and felt like the pearl snaps or any other type of snap would compete with the gold buckle.  I've been waiting to make a dress that works with this adorbs scalloped belt (from Boden).
Here in Northern California, this is how I wear all my dresses: with a cardigan.
How much do I love just making a pattern without testing the fit?  I love it enough to have a wardrobe full of multiples, and the strong desire to get a basic set of perfect patterns.  I'm working on it!  There may be one more of these in my future....

Wednesday, May 11, 2016

Adelaide in chambray

I didn't even know it was "Pattern of the month" when I selected the Adelaide pattern with my Seamwork credits. Nice!  And this is only the first of two I've made...
I really wanted another chambray shirt dress after I chopped off this one to make a top (scroll down the page a bit), so I bought a bunch of chambray fabric at Stonemountain and Daughter.  I still haven't found the perfect shirt dress pattern, so when I saw Adelaide, I thought it was a good stop-gap for the summer.
As a student in Apparel Production, I looked at the printed pattern and immediately recognized some issues.  The back arm scythe was shaped a little weird (see above, the original line is the solid blue line and dotted white line) so I redrew it to have a more shallow curve.
Additionally, the seam at the shoulder strap was angled the wrong way, at least for the smaller sizes (see pattern section, above). I really can't fathom why the shoulder seam would angle up for the smaller sizes and angle down for the larger sizes.  In any case, it should angle down, so I redrew that, too.   Final alteration was to reduce the bust dart intake, for a quick-and-dirty small bust adjustment.
After the minor adjustments, I sewed up the pattern as written and it fits beautifully!  For sizing, I went with size 0, grading to 2 at the hips.  In the end, I don't think I needed to grade up, but having a row of snaps down the front made me want to allow for a bit more wiggle room.  No one at the boys' school or the grocery store wants to see a peep show, so best to be a little conservative.  
Speaking of snaps...I've always used the standard blue pound-it-with-a-hammer snap tool.  I hate that thing for so many reasons.  So I splurged (with my 40% off coupon at Joann's) to buy the next level up in snap tools (kudos to Shams for going all the way!).  Holy crap, kids, how did I live without this?  It makes applying snaps FUN.  And QUIET.  Seriously, guys; fun AND quiet.  I planned another Adelaide so I could apply more snaps (and bought specialty colored ones to match my garment!).  Then, I applied snaps to the cuffs of the top chopped from my former shirtdress. I {heart} snap pliers.  
Initially, I thought the dress did a good job of hiding my bra straps, but then I saw this photo (above), so I'll modify that to say that it does an OK job at hiding bra straps.  Certainly better than most tank-style dresses, so that's cool.  
Overall, I'm really happy with this garment.  It's a work-horse type of dress for me.  Something I can wear to the park, class, strawberry picking (like I did on Mother's Day, in this dress, in the mud), woodworking (like I did today in my son's Kinder class, in this dress, a mere three days after I wore it last), cycling (well, maybe next week) or cleaning toilets, and feel comfy the whole time. Multifunctional, I tell you!  Final words: by the snap pliers, and, I'd definitely recommend this dress, with the caveat that I had to make some drafting changes to the pattern.  Once my navy blue snaps arrive (tomorrow!), I'll be done with version 2!

Saturday, May 07, 2016

Hawaiian sunrise Hazel

We were pretty lax in our vacation planning--we were more or less spontaneous in the things we did once we were on Oahu.  However, I did look up fabric stores on the island before we went and was pleased that a trip to buy some fabric could be coordinated with another activity on the Honolulu/Waikiki side of the island.  With husband and kids in tow, I couldn't spend heaps of time in the store, so I grabbed a bunch of fabric and headed to the cutting table.  This gradient-dyed fabric was right there near the check-out line and when the person in front of me bought a length of it, I couldn't resist either and bought 3 yards.
I had researched Colette's Hazel dress for a different and unrealized project, but it was the clear choice for this lovely fabric.  The pattern has cutting instructions for border prints, so it worked out perfectly.  I went with a size 0, grading to 4 at the waist.  It would be more comfy in a slightly larger size, so next time I'll go with a 2.
The fabric is truly a gorgeous color, but is an unfortunate cotton/ polyester blend.  At $3.99/yard, I didn't really care!  You can get it right here (5 yard minimum, unfortunately), with a few other colorways (blue and orange).  The fabric is fairly thin, so a strapless bra is necessary (wahh!).
I love how fitted the bodice is, but the dirndl skirt is not my favorite.  It's not the pattern's fault--I just don't love gathered waistlines on me (which is funny, since one of my near-future projects is a gathered-waist skirt....)
By the time I got to the hem, I didn't want to lose any of the purple at the bottom--it definitely needs it for visual balance.  So, I didn't hem it!  Since the bottom hem was cut along the selvage edge, I kept the slightly frayed-looking edge intact.  It's not ideal, but I think it looks fine.

I have to say, I'm not feeling very excited or inspired by my other Hawaiian fabrics, so they'll have to wait for a while.  I sent two lengths of rayon to my mom--hopefully she makes something fabulous out of them!
Can't wait to wear this to the next summer picnic!

Monday, May 02, 2016

Petite adjustment for the Siren Sundress by Decades of Style

The other day I posted about a lovely sundress I had sewn.  Like everything I make, I had to adjust for my lack of height, but in this case, where to shorten the bodice wasn't illustrated on the pattern, or even very obvious.  So, for the 0.1% of the sewing population that could use a tutorial for how to do a petite adjustment for the Siren Sundress, here's what I did:
I don't always trace my patterns, but when I have to cut up and manipulate pieces, it's a must!  Above, I've simply traced the bodice piece in my size (34, though I should have gone with 32).  My muslin indicated that I needed to lop off about 1 1/4" to raise the waistline, so I measured that out (dotted line along the bottom of the bodice, below) and trimmed it off.  

Then, I placed the trimmed piece on top of the new bodice bottom, aligning the pieces at the side seam.  Since the Center Front and other markings have shifted, I remarked them according to their position on the original piece.

At this point, I've reduced the length of the waist measurement slightly. So, to readjust the waist length, I repositioned the trimmed piece on top of the bodice, aligning the bottom and side seam (the trimmed piece hangs over the rest of the bodice).  I taped on a new piece of tissue paper and traced the bump-out.

The diagonal edge of the bodice is cut on the straight grain, so I redrew the line to connect to the waistline to the shoulder, and then redrew the grainline to be parallel to my new cut line.

Last but not least, since I adjusted the height of the waistline, I had to move the bust dart.  For this, I simply shifted the whole thing up by 1/4".

Below is the finished bodice piece, with the original trimmed piece just below, to see the full transformation.  
This adjustment would work with any wrap-style bodice (like a true wrap dress).  Have fun and good luck!