This is my favorite of the three dresses I made this week. Probably due to this gorgeous fabric I bought at bolt on Monday. I really didn’t know what I was going to do with it at the time, but as it sat on the cutting table all week it became very clear on Friday morning that I would use it for this last frock.
Whew! I am feeling so satisfied with myself. I don’t think I have ever sewn three items of clothing in one week. And miracle of miracles, the house is not trashed, the kids’ soccer uniforms are clean and ready and I got at least 8 hours of sleep each night.
I am going to say it’s because I used this one pattern for everything. I didn't have to trace nor did I have to read instructions after the first one. Using knits for all items made things quicker too. The other great thing about using one pattern as the basis for everything was that it forced/allowed me to be more adventurous and creative. What a great week of sewing. I may not be able to continue with the challenge over the weekend, what with work and lots of things on the social calendar. Thanks, Meg for hosting the always inspirational Kids Clothes Week Challenge!
Oh, improvisational piecing, where have you been all my life?
Last summer I had the good fortune to attended a workshop at PNCA with Denyse Schmidt. It was fantastic! Denyse is a very inspiring person and thoughtful artist and I highly recommend this workshop. My kind table mate and others in attendance have written about the experience eloquently here, and here. (I concede I am a little late posting about this now but better late than never, right?)
Working intuitively this way is definitely my cup of tea. For me, it’s very much like painting, only with fabric. Playing with color, scale, pattern and composition and letting the piece grow while making decisions about the design along the way rather than starting with a plan, is a very satisfying way to work. Since that wonderful weekend, my blocks have been sitting around my sewing room, waiting patiently to become something. Last month, I was finally able to make that happen in the form of some quilted pillow covers for our living room. I think they turned out pretty great!
Thank you, Oliver + S, for making me a better seamstress.
This coat was finished over the weekend, and just in time, too! It’s pouring outside and my muchkin is plenty cozy. And dry too, thanks to the water resistant canvas I used—which I ordered from here. It’s lined with a crossweave pima shirting and interlined with organic cotton fleece. I am always impressed every time I use an O+S pattern at how smart and simple the designs are and how flawless and thoughtful the construction and finishing techniques are.
The only challenge we are having (which could be considered a flaw in design) is that the button tabs are a little fiddly. Lauren had trouble buttoning them without getting them twisted and it took her a little too long to get them undone and the thing off. The first time she wore it was to a movie with a friend and she couldn't get it off in the dark and had to sit through the whole show baking. I guess she was too shy to ask for help. As soon as she got home she said she wasn’t going to wear it “ever again!” Determined to avoid having my hard work rejected once more, I put some velcro on those button tabs and have convinced her to give it another try. So far, so good…
A little more about the fabric. It’s beautiful and soft and not too stiff for a canvas. It has a nice drape to it and was really easy to work with. I’m not sure about the water-resistant feature though. It is apparently not permanent. I’m thinking it will work well for our quick trips to and from school or for running errands, but not for a long walk in the rain. We’ll see.
Couldn’t resist posting this last shot because I think it’s just so darn cute.
Besides finishing Lauren’s coat over the weekend, I also had the great pleasure of attending the Little Winter market and enjoyed it so much. I bought a gorgeous necklace and earrings from Sulu Design, and a couple of really lovely gifts from My House Party. The highlight for me was meeting and chatting with Elly Fales, of Garment House who could not have been more kind and gracious. Some very nice photos of the event here and here.
Since then I have thought a lot about hand-dyed fabric and all the beautiful things I could make—and haven’t done a damned thing about it. Our annual summer tie-dye session last month renewed my passion and shortly thereafter I began dreaming—quite literally—about dyeing fabric. I dreamt I had a dedicated studio very much like this one, and this one. It was awesome. The next morning I started sketching a little plan for converting the former laundry space in our basement which turned into a good exercise in patience and appreciation for everything I already have…
But the tie-dying was fun! The kids—including a cousin and friend or two—did their usual T-shirts and a couple of pairs of socks (and leggings for Lauren). They are big fans of the classic spiral and bulls-eye, but I favor the more free-form scrunch method and convinced Lauren to do one of her shirts that way. Will invented his own folding technique.
After everything was set aside for the required 24-hour period (excruciating) and all the littles had moved on to other activities, I found myself alone with a generous amount of dye left over. I grabbed a few yards of grey Kona cotton and started squirting and scrunching with no plan at all in mind. While resting in its plastic bag, it looked exactly like a bag of rotten salad greens…
But look how it turned out! It's really darker than it looks here but overall very lovely. I am hoping to make Lauren a First-Day-of-School dress with it—if I can make time in the next week.
Sigh. So many projects…
I have not been at all in the mood to blog since our vacation. These are partly to blame (so good). And I’ve been trying to wade through the volume of photos—I always take way too many—but will soon share a few images and maybe some stories from our time away. I also have plenty of projects to share: more knit tops and other stuff. Until then, take a gander at this stack of Sevenberry fabric I picked up at the Fabric Depot tent sale early in July. What a score! I think they were all around 3 or 4 dollars a yard.
Now that summer is finally and at long last here, this little number is getting quite a bit of use. Though admittedly we haven’t gone to the pool as much as I had expected (sooo crowded), it has seen lots of action in the backyard of the sprinkler variety and will see more on our upcoming vacation.
Making a swimming suit was fun! The stretchy fabric is so forgiving—it just zings back into place, right where it should. I used Kwik Sew 2725 . Because this is a leotard pattern (the only proper swimsuit pattern my store had in stock had a racer back, which I don’t like) the straps are wider than they should be for swimming, but Lauren has not complained so far. And the leg openings are a tad high for my tastes. Other than those two small items, we have a winner!
We are off to spend two weeks in the land of Lincoln and the Ozarks with Kirk’s family. I may pop in with some photos during that time but if not, I’ll be back here toward the end of the month. Until then, have a great July!
So where were we? Oh yes, Built by Wendy 3692. Behold my second version of this pattern—this time as a dress and made in a size 10. I was pretty zealous in my last post about the fact that this is four sizes smaller than what the pattern measurements indicate should fit me. A little over zealous perhaps, because while it feels comfortable and fits more or less fine, when I looked at these photos I started to wonder if the 12 would fit better. Primarily because the shoulder seams look a little high to me. And perhaps it’s a wee bit snug through the bust. Also, my measurements are between the 16 and 18, so if I rounded down and it turns out the 12 fits better, I’d have to revise my earlier recommendation that you size down by four sizes. At this point, I’d say more like two or three sizes.
I still like it a lot the way it is. I’ll just continue to test and tweak. And report.
Oh, and I’m in love with this fabric. It’s a soy/bamboo blend with a tiny bit of lycra which I got at Mill End. The color is so gorgeous.
What I’d love advice on is the dress part. It’s pretty shapeless—almost like a night gown. I thought I might sew in some elastic at the waistline to give it more shape but then I took it to the Friday night Sew-cial at MD and the good gals there suggested I simply do a few rows of shirring in the back. Sounds great, right? And it looks okay from the front—but is seriously unflattering from the side!
So what do you think? Should I do elastic all the way around the waist—or should I just cut it off, hem it and call it good as a top? I’m leaning toward the latter.
On a side note: I think I need to hire Lauren to be my photo stylist, so things like the twisted necklace don’t happen again. And speaking of helpers, we also had a post-shower streaker run right through our shoot. Good times!
So this may be somewhat out of order but I am posting about this top first although it was not my first adventure with knits. I tackled this project after twice failing with a basic Jalie T-shirt. (One of those is wearable and I'll talk about it another time). But right now I have a lot to say about this pattern. I agree with Melissa’s assessment—it is a good one. But here’s what you have to do: first compare your measurements to those on the back of the pattern and find the corresponding size for those measurements. Now…are you paying attention? Cut out the pattern three or four sizes smaller than that [I have revised my stance on this. See here.] and you’ll end up with a super cute and well-fitting top. Seriously. My bust measurement is 39/40, putting me between a size 16 and 18 according to the pattern envelope. At the suggestion of my teacher, I cut out the 14 and it was huge. I took it in at the sides a good two inches (so four inches total!) and that seemed to do the trick for fitting through the body. Of course the neckline is still too big as you can see by the way it bunches up there. Ultimately I needed the size 10 (see, this is 4 sizes smaller than what the pattern indicates) Crazy!! But I like the top anyway and consider it a success. It’s super comfortable and pretty cute even though it doesn’t lay flat at the neckline. Oh, and it really fits a bit more loosely through the bust than it looks in these photos. Reaching your hand out in an awkward sideways position to take a photo of yourself in the mirror tends to make things pull a bit… you know.
I also think the construction technique for securing the facing to the body is really whacked. The instructions have you attach the yoke to the body first (both front and back). Then the facing to the yoke. The weird part is that now you’ve got a yoke facing flapping around inside and you’re supposed to secure it by top stitching blind on the right side where the yoke attaches to the body. Then they want you to trim away any excess fabric along that stitch line. This is not easy and really doesn’t make sense. It works much better to sew the yoke and facing together first and then attach to the body as one piece. An added bonus here is that you don’t have to top stitch, unless you want to. I hope this makes sense. Let me know if you need clarification.
Finally: don’t be afraid of a little lycra in your fabric. I have always thought it sounded kind of gross, but just a touch—2 or 3 percent—gives your fabric good recovery which will be your friend while sewing—and wearing. I have learned a lot about choosing knit fabrics, mainly that the amount of stretch and recovery in your fabric greatly affects the fit and wearability of your garment. Duh.
Alright, I’m done. Except to say that I have made this pattern in a size 10 and will be back to share that project ‘cause I need a little advice…
I often suffer from severe indecisiveness when planning a sewing project. I talked a bit about this before. It’s ridiculous. I wasted precious sewing time vacillating between fabrics for this dress, before finally settling on the one from Sevenberry (so hard to find on line!) purchased a while back at bolt. I used the same pattern last year but this version has a cap sleeve rather than the flutter sleeve. I think I made the right choice! Next up is how best to use the voile I just bought…
I love the name of this fabric from Alexander Henry. It cracks me up. Will wanted a button-front shirt and picked out this fabric at Bolt last fall. The pattern is, again, from this book—a winner. I wish I would have thought more about the placement of pattern pieces before I cut them, so as to avoid the symmetry on the two fronts, but oh well… I was more focused on the back placement.
Update: Look what I found here on Flickr! Fantastic.