Thursday, June 26, 2014

Purple Ponte Strapless Top and Twirly Skirt: Sort of Vogue 8849

OOOOhhhh. I just have been dying to share this one with you all!

Strapless baby! Isn't that just so sexy. And the skirt is so fun to dance in. The top is Sort of Vogue 8849 (I'll explain that below!). The skirt is pretty much freeform, no pattern necessary!

We had a very special milonga (for you non-tango folk, a milonga is a social dance where people dance argentinian tango) this weekend, so I used it as an excuse to make a new outfit.

I've been scheming about making a strapless top for over a year now! I bought the plastic boning when Joannes had a closeout sale ages ago, and I bought black corset mesh from Emmaonesock just out of curiosity. The purple ponte I bought as a possible alternate for my maid of honor dress but didn't end up using it (I made this instead). And Vogue 8849 just jumped into my hands one day during a sale at Joannes... I've since seen several bustier top patterns, but since I had it I thought I could make it work.

Actually it was pretty darn easy to adapt the pattern. Since I was working with a knit, I looked at the final body measurements on the pattern and chose the size that would have no ease (which was about 2 sizes smaller than I usually cut). Lauren at Lladybird just did a great tutorial on where to find that measurement on major brand patterns (scroll all the way to the bottom, it is a loooong post).

Next, I traced the bodice pieces. Then I measured the distance between my waist and mid him, and lengthened the bodice pieces by this amount. I then measured my hips and calculated the difference between my waist and hip measurement. I halved this, and added that amount to the side front and side back to make the bustier flare at the hip.

It sounds complicated, but the truth is you could almost just eyeball it and draw it out. Especially if you are working with a knit-- stretch is very forgiving! I then basted it all together and tried it on, and ended up taking it in about 1/2 inch on the front seams and 1 inch on the side seams, which I should have guessed since really wanted negative ease with a stretch fabric. But I wasn't going for super tight, just tight enough to stay put!

I cut another set of pieces from the corset fabric. It is really cool stuff, stretchy but with perfect recovery. I should have taken a pic before I sewed it up, so you'll just have to image this-- on the inside, I sewed strips of corset fabric to make channels for my boning. I put in 6 pieces of boning-- both front princess seams, both sides, and two in the back. The side boning I offset to the back by an inch so that it didn't fall right on the seamline to make adjustments and putting in a zipper easier.

I've never worked with boning, and the boning I had is just the stuff you can buy at Joannes. I wasn't sure what to do with the ends of it (I guess there are plastic caps but I didn't have any) so I padded the ends with a bit of scrap fabric. I started out with one layer, then I ended up doing a double layer of scrap ponte. On the underarm pieces, I ended up going back and adding another layer of fabric over the end of the boning, they were poking me!

I used an invisible zip in the side seam. A couple of things I read suggested this method of using a zip that was super long and then putting a snap on the inside. After you put the top on, you just tuck the end of the zip up inside and snap it in place. Pretty cool! I was worried it would be uncomfortable, but I actually didn't notice it at all when I was wearing it. And it beats trying to zip up a separating zipper under your arm.

The skirt is stretch silk with a folded over knit waistband, yoga pants style. I had a remnant of gorgeous Naeem Khan silk from Emmaonesock, and I paired this with some purple stretch charmeuse from Mood. I made a rough circle skirt pattern on paper, and pieced the fabric together pretty randomly. The Naeem Khan silk is just sooooo gorgeous, the pictures don't really do it justice.

I thought I might have trouble putting a knit waistband on a woven skirt, but it turned out not to be a problem at all. The stretch of the silk helped make easing the waistband very easy. I did use a zig-zag stitch to prevent having stitches pop when the waistband is stretched. I think it would be fine with non-stretch too, just a bit more gathered.

You really can't go wrong with a circle skirt made out of floaty silk! And it is super-comfortable with the knit waistband-- just like my favorite pair of yoga paints.

I mostly let the imperfect legnths of my piecing determine the length, but I did guide it into a bit of a high-lo hem, with the sides being longer than the front and back. I hemmed it with a simple rolled hem. And I put in a slit on one side just because I thought it would add a bit of extra interest to the swirl of the skirt.

I had a GREAT night of dancing on Saturday night. There is nothing like an outfit you feel awesome in to help bolster your confidence on the dance floor!


Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Outfit Along... crochet is okay!

And the official word from Andi at the Outfit Along is... crocheting is okay! Hooray!

An excuse to go yarn shopping!

Really, I will learn to knit someday. Maybe. ;)

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Outfit Along!

I really want to join the Outfit Along. What a cool idea!

Lladybird is one of my favorite bloggers, and I'm totally amazed by Andi's skills with yarn.

Especially brilliant of them is the fact that they are totally encouraging people to join in, even if they choose to sew and knit different patterns.

However, it so happens that I SUCK at knitting. Like it would take me two years to knit a sweater. I honestly don't know what my problem is, I've set out to learn more than once and I understand the concept but I just can't get to a point where I actually enjoy it.

It could be because I LOVE crocheting. I've gone through periods of my life where I've been so totally addicted to it, just the feel of the motion and the yarn in my hands. So I've put in a request to Lladybird and Myrna to see if crocheting is against the rules.

In anticipation, I went browsing for patterns, and found that there are a TON of gorgeous top-down sweater patterns for crocheters. I honestly have never made a sweater before, just lots of scarves, hats and mittens, so it would be a really fun challenge. I think the Chevron Lace Cardigan might be a good one to do as a first sweater pattern. So many people have made it, with great results-- and it's free!

I have to go yarn shopping, but I'm thinking of something relatively low-key to highlight the chevron pattern and the print I have in mind for the dress. Like, maybe black! One just can't have enough black cardigans in their wardrobe!

For the dress, I have this gorgeous silk print in my stash that I've been looking for an excuse to make into something. It is an edgy black and yellow print that Emmaonesock called the "firefly" print.

I bought 1.5 yards, then I also bought a piece that showed up in the remants since I had second thoughts on whether 1.5 would be enough.

I just looove the dress Lladybird is making, but I just can't see that style on me. Gathers around the waist just don't look good on me. So I was thinking about this faux wrap from Burdastyle (#141)

Or this one with an empire waist and a gathered bust (#112). Probably without the front buttons... I'd love to do a zipper, but it might be too heavy for this silk. So maybe just a clean front and side zip.

What do you think?

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Dogwood Linen Dress: New Look 6643

I love it when the dogwoods bloom here in the Finger Lakes! I saw a tree in bloom, and it reminded me that I had a gorgeous piece of dogwood printed linen in my stash. I only had 1.5 yards, so I decided to make New Look 6643.

A whole tree covered in 4 petaled flowers-- so strange and wonderful. If you find a 5 leafed one is it good luck?

Isn't this fabric gorgeous? I wish you could reach out and touch it, it is silky smooth, the best linen I have ever worked with. It was just a dream to sew.

New Look 6643 is a simple sheath pattern with darts, which makes it great for highlighting interesting fabrics and textures. I've made it before in silk charmeuse using shredded bias chiffon as a textural embellishment to the bodice.

This time I made view D, with the hope that it would do a slightly better job of hiding my bra straps than the wide shoulder variation. I just hate having to worry about sneaky bra straps making their way out from under my dress. Hmmmm... maybe I should make some bra strap guides...!

Anyway, instead of the keyhole, I made a little "V" dip in the front neckline. Just because I thought it would be fun, and a touch sexier.

This time I didn't even bother with trying to put a zip in the center back, I just put it in the side seam. It went in easily, even though I forgot to interface it. Ooops!

I knew I didn't want to line the dress-- it is plenty opaque, and I wanted the cool linen against my skin. So I made a one-piece-facing instead of the neck and armhole facings. I could have used any fabric, but I couldn't find just the right piece of something that would be the right color and maintain the breath-ability of the linen, so piecing together my scraps ended up being easier.

Linen is such a great fabric for hot days! It was over 80 degrees and humid today when I hiked down to the lake to take these pictures, and I hardly felt it in this dress.

I just love my new dress! Can't wait to go dancing!

Monday, June 16, 2014

Polka Dot Swing Top: A Variation on Simplicty 2404

I am CRAZY for polka dots this summer. I just can't get enough of them. I saw them all over Rome this spring, on the streets and in boutiques, and when I got back one of the first things I did was buy some polka dot jersey.

This took less than 2 hours from start to finish- immediate sewing gratification! I just took the bodice of 2404 and lengthened it out into a tunic-y top. It's a woven pattern, but I wanted a flowy top, so I didn't worry about the extra ease. In fact, I added some more to make this top extra swing-y.

I made a polka dot top for Little Bug with the leftover fabric, but she wouldn't wear it for photos today. She chose her purple and green polka-dot skirt instead (thrifted!).

The edges are bound with strips of the same knit. Super-simple, and fun to wear for summer! The shorts are my absolute favorite knit shorts from Lululemon. Can't get them anymore, so cloning them is on the sewing to do list.

Friday, June 13, 2014

Toddler talk

Lilly's commentary this morning, passing the train yard:

"Choo-Choo. Another one choo-choo. Choo-choo all done."

Lekala patterns: Waisted Coat

Look at this. Remember how I was saying I wished I could make that Burberry coat? This is Lekala patterns: Waisted Coat, number 4298.

And the Burberry Coat, for comparison:

No copyrights in fashion, right?

Wow. So I could sew my inspiration. Now the question is, do I really want to? All of that seaming... it could be a disaster! Or, at the very least, a difficult first coat experience.

While I'm at it, this one (Lekala 5087) is totally classic:

Anyone tried Lekala patterns? It seems like an interesting idea... you put in your measurements and get a pattern in exactly your size.

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Wool Winter Coat: Choosing a Pattern

I had no idea choosing the pattern for my winter coat would be so difficult!

This coat by Burberry just takes my breath away! Contemporary and classic at the same time. Not very practical- it is quite exaggerated with the wasp-waist and the dramatic shoulders. But I like the simple, clean lines.

It is always a good bet to pick something that lots of people have sewed successfully. For example, I just love Gertie's Butterick B5824... but I think that would be too dramatic for an everyday coat, at least on me.

The Lady Gray by Colette patterns is a bit tempting... I think I will make this one someday, with the collars trimmed down a bit. I love the shaping in the body of this coat! But I worry about that collar... I like a collar that can be turned up against the cold, and the way it is constructed I'm not sure it would serve that purpose very well. It would be a lovely coat, but just not an everyday coat for me.

My biggest contender is Burda 8292. I like the simple lines of it, the two part sleeve. I'm just not sure if it will be too simple. I'd probably do the funnel collar... but the other collar has possibilities too, if the tailoring was done well it would look like my Burberry inspiration.

It has princess seams, but I might give it a bit more shaping at the waist and hips since I'm not a stick like the models. I'd also add a back vent, and sleeve vents or tabs.

Other possibilities... Simplicity 2508. I'm not sure how I feel about the raglan sleeves, but it has great lines. I'm not overly excited about double-breasted styles, but I'm not totally against it. I'd need a lot of buttons! I'd definitely do the funnel collar on this one.

Vogue 8346. I love the shape, but the lapels look a bit strange to me. Too pointy, cut in very deep... might be fixable.

Butterick 5425, out of print but looks to be available from several sources. Very victorian! The romantic side of me loves it... but that skirt is pretty impractical for my everyday look.

I wish I could find a coat where I loved the look of the lapels! That's the main reason I haven't settled yet. But I will probably work up a muslim of Burda 8292 and see how it goes.