The Astoria with a frill

<Seamwork Astoria hack
I posted this on The Monthly Stitch last month, but it is worth sharing here because it turns out I really love this top. It was simple to make and it is easy to wear, and I’ve even been able to tuck it into my overall dress for the ultimate classic pairing of stripes and denim.
My new love is (slightly) cropped tops, but after the last 2 I whipped up I realized that I don’t have much for my bottom half with a higher waistband to go with them. That makes me sad, but don’t worry, I’ll make some new things! In the meantime, though, I want to embrace the emphasis on my waist so I added a double chiffon ruffle to the Seamwork Astoria sweater instead of the bottom band. It really changed the top and made it fun and flirty.
Chiffon ruffle added to Astoria

I guess I won’t need to provide a tutorial for how to do this one, right? Just a tedious and tiny hem on both ruffles and a slight gather at the top, then I added them to the top while I stretched it slightly so it will fit over my head. I did a nice job stripe matching across the sleeves, too, if I do say so. The side seams don’t match up exactly, but those seams are under my arms, so I can live with it. Since I serged those seams I really truly will live with it! I used the white stripe as the neckline to balance the white peplum at the bottom.
Seamwork Astoria with added ruffle

Some notes:

  • Made a size Small with an inch added to both bodice and sleeves length (standard adjustment for me)
  • My frill was about twice the width of the omitted bottom band, but 1.5 width would do fine, too.
  • It is a different shape for me, since my tops are usually looser fitting, and I got rave reviews from several people (and especially my husband).

Seamwork Astoria back view


Sew it Chic Monthly July 2016

Sew it Chic first saturdays

creating in the gapJune was a bang-up month for sure! The June Sew it Chic collected 25 beautiful entries and inspired me so much! First of all, did you all check out Margot’s off the shoulder dress? It is simply lovely and wearable and easy to sew – luckily she practically invited us all to copy her in her blog post because I’m pretty sure that is exactly what I’ll be doing! Let’s see how many off the shoulder dresses we get linked up in this July link up, shall we?

I was also deeply in love with Pauline’s J Crew knock-off with the little ruffled sleeves. She makes such amazing things from ready-to-wear inspiration, go check out every page of her blog Sew U Think U Can. I love the style of J Crew, so this one is irresistible to me. Add it to the list!

I may spend the entire month of July copying my favorite looks from the link-up. Thanks, guys, like I need more projects lined up on my sewing table! But really, the link ups are so inspirational and I adore seeing and commenting on every one of them. Keep ’em coming. What will you dazzle us with in July?


And now for the brand new link-up…but first, a few rules:

  • Women’s garments only
  • Made or blogged in the past month only – to avoid reposts.
  • The party is open about a month, until the last day of that month.
  • You don’t have to blog to join in! Link up your Pattern Review, your Kollabora project or even an Instagram pic. I know there are so many lovely things made that we never see because not everyone blogs. I have one person who emails me the pictures so I can get them up here.

Optional additional ideas:

  • If you are on a blogging platform that supports links, please link back to www.grayallday.com by using the Sew it Chic button in the sidebar, or just a simple mention in the text of your post. That way more people will find the party!
  • Look around and share a comment or 2 with a neighbor. I love blog comments so much!. They are encouraging and build community.
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Throw a bib on that Moss skirt and call it overalls!

IMG_2709I had the best time making this overall dress – I skipped over my usual hesitation and just went for it! No fear!

6c8936c2-bb0d-4154-b89a-65f74fae4fd2This item was my entry for the Ready to Wear Copy contest over on The Monthly Stitch. I’ve seen many cute overall dresses, and many fashion bloggers wear them with striped tops. The one I chose to use to copy is Keiko Lynn, a favorite blogger of mine because of her colorful and fun ensembles. This is a very toned down outfit for her, so I thought it was one I could actually copy and wear in my less than high-glamour lifestyle! She has some killer accessories in her shot (as she always does) but I didn’t have access to either a similar hat or thigh high socks. I paired my outfit with gold earrings and my beloved gold Birkenstocks.

IMG_2712I will show you the top in another blog post, since there is a little surprise hidden in those overalls.

IMG_2729The dress was a hack – I used the Grainline Moss mini skirt to make this and drafted the bib and waistband myself. I couldn’t really find exactly what I was looking for as I searched for patterns, and I’m so glad I went with the Moss, since I knew the fit was perfect, I could focus on the many other details of this dress without fiddling with it. Doesn’t it fit perfectly? It feels great on, too.

IMG_2743The medium weight denim I used has quite a bit of stretch, and denim is so easy to work with! Just a few places where I had to pound some really thick seams – but that was fun to do! I also got to hammer on the buttons for the buckles, so all aggression I had for the day was expressed joyfully with my hammer!

IMG_2752I did have some zipper woes. I didn’t interface for the zipper because I thought the denim certainly had plenty of weight to hold a zipper. But I forgot that exposed zippers are put in much like welt pockets, and will fray badly in some fabric, like – haha- denim. I had to unpick my zipper, interface, then redo carefully without unravelling the 2 corners! This is an example of where a set of instructions would have helped, but I was full speed ahead! The Grainline instructions are wonderful and I’ve used them for several Moss skirts, but I moved the zipper and made it exposed, so I was improvising that part.

IMG_2758My favorite details I added – back waistband and facing (added to the yoke) pulled tight to create a great fit across the small of the back, the strap holder under the top overall strap to keep them crossed in the correct place, and the size and shape of the bib turned out really well, and I drafted that pattern piece myself.

IMG_2770I had to stand back and marvel at that topstitching. It is beautiful! I did that with my new BERNINA 350 PE I have on loan while I’m a BERNINA ambassador. It purrs and smooths over all those layers of denim like buttah. Such a pleasure to use!

IMG_2812The longing for a denim overall dress is now satiated. I can sleep once again.

 


The Clothes Making Mavens Podcast is ready for your enjoyment!

webpageJust a quick note to let you know that the very first episode of my brand new podcast is up on the internet for all to take a listen! Click on over to our brand new website where all the podcast information lives — ClothesMakingMavens.com. (Website looks pretty good, eh? I’m pleased with how that turned out. Harder than sewing a bias silk camisole without stretching, but, like the camisole, worth it in the end!)

For this first episode, Lori from FrivolousAtLast.com and I keep our Sew Small Talk pretty basic with introductions and a little get-to-know-us game. I was unimaginably nervous and sweating the entire time we were recording, but don’t worry, Lori sounds great! And I know that I had to get through the first difficult trial to move on to the next. For the next one, I’m sure all my nervousness will melt away since we are going to talk about my favorite subject – fabric!

The hope is to churn out 2 episodes a month; one Sew Small Talk with Lori and I, and 1 interview with a fun and fascinating guest. Our first guest lined up is Lauren Taylor from Lladybird.com. She and I had a great discussion that I think will be fun to listen to.

It is quite a leap to take, letting the world hear my voice, but I know this will get easier and I have a great podcast partner to have fun with. Let me know what you think, and don’t forget to go to the website and tell us about your most embarrassing makes! I want all of you involved in the discussion, like a huge conference call of sewing love!


Coming soon — the Clothes Making Mavens Podcast!

You know what’s so amazing about sewing podcasts? That you get to listen to people discuss your favorite pastime while you’re doing your favorite pastime! It’s like having a sewing party at your place but you didn’t have to vacuum or bake banana bread ahead of time!

If you’re a fan of sewing podcasts like I am, then I hope you’ll be happy to hear this news…

ClothesMakingMavens_Logo_Square

Lori, from FrivolousAtLast.com, and I are producing a podcast! We’re looking forward to sharing our first episode with you very soon!

[Lori jumps around room with excitement, shouting yahoo yaHOOOO YAHOOOOOOOOOOOO…a box of pins goes flying; the microphone gets knocked on the floor. Helena, on the other side of the continent, is still extracting pins from the rug after her last excited outburst.]

We want to include your stories in our podcast, too. So we’ll be asking you a specific question for each episode in hopes that you’ll share some interesting stories with us and with other sewists who will be listening (we hope).

Our first question is: What is the most embarrassing thing you ever sewed that you actually wore out in public? Why did you wear it, and where? How did you feel? Was it embarrassing at the time or only now that you think back on it? Perhaps it was a fashion crime? Or a bad fit? Or likely it was just something that was fashionable in the 80s that you’re horrified by now. (Many of us are horrified by what we wore in the 80s, aren’t we?) I know you’ve got some good stories, so dish, my friends! All the gory details, please!😀

There are several ways you can share your story with us:

  1. Call us at 401-64MAVEN and leave your story on our voicemail. (Long distance charges may apply.)
  2. Visit speakpipe.com/ClothesMakingMavens and record your message using your computer’s built-in or external microphone.
  3. Leave your story in the comments below.
  4. Send your story telepathically directly to my or Helena’s brain. (Results not guaranteed.)

We’d love for you to record your message using one of the first two methods so we can play it back on our podcast. But we’ll also be happy to read some of your written stories aloud, too.

Hope to hear from you very soon! And I’ll keep you posted about when you can listen to our first episode.


More tulip skirts because sometimes I surprise myself

S2451 skirtPerhaps I should repeat patterns more often. I don’t make patterns again usually because I am so easily distracted by the next thing. My to-sew list is very long! But I decided to whip another S2451 skirt because my first version was completed on the verge of too big and then I lost an inch and a half around my waist, so now it really really is too big. But after wearing that one a couple times I realized how much I love the style! Especially with slightly cropped tops, which I am suddenly obsessed with. The evolution of my style is an ebb and flow of change.

Simplicity patterns 2451 skirtSo this one is a size smaller and I shaped the side seams a little to curve just the way I want them. It fits me like a glove and sits just below my natural waist. In fact, it fits so well that I had to unzip it to nap in yesterday. Gotta get comfy for naptime, you know.

Simplicity 2451 skirtThis version is unlined and serged inside to keep the mid-weight denim manageable for summer. The denim also has a bit of stretch so I reinforced the top of the waistband between the 2 yokes with seam binding so it would stay stable. I am in love with top-stitching with my new BERNINA 350PE, but I could only figure out how to incorporate it around the yoke, hem and up the side seams for reinforcement. I also did a little tack at the pocket to keep that opening stable. You know how I love the pockets on this skirt and they will get used!

denim tulip skirtThis time I made a lapped zipper, which made me a little sad to cover the pretty brass zipper up. But I followed the directions for a change. I added a hook and eye at the top to secure it. It does look neat and tidy, I’ll admit, even though I love an exposed zipper.

sewing tulip skirt patternYay for me, I recently made a S1366 cropped top to wear with it – and I’m sure a tucked in top will be great, too. I’m currently on a cropped top bender, so you’ll be seeing more of them, oh yes! My Liana jeans have more of a mid-rise, too, and it is so comfortable! My tummy isn’t spilling out over my waistband – everything is tucked in place better. I remember very clearly when I started to wear low-rise jeans in high school because I just pierced my belly button and the low rise didn’t irritate it. That piercing is long gone, let me tell you, so let’s bring the waistline up again! It makes me feel so cute and put together.

denim tulip skirt zipperBullet points:

  • Went down a size to make the waistband sit right under the natural waist and it feels great there.
  • This mid-weight denim has nice structure for the shape but I left off lining it so I would stay cooler during the summer.
  • Just a little bit of topstitching. Wish I could have added more, but I couldn’t figure out how to tastefully throw more on!

S2451 denim skirt


Sew it Chic June 2016

Sew it Chic first saturdays

Friends – Sew it Chic link-up is back! I’m so sorry for the lapse. It astonishes me how my life seems to get busier and busier, but anyway, this party is very important to me and I am recommitting to keeping it going. Why? Because I miss it! I thought I had “followed” all of my friend’s blogs, using Bloglovin’ reader, but I have to tell you sometimes I don’t understand what Bloglovin’ is showing me. It is not always everything I’ve subscribed to and I’m missing lots of posts! I’m not sure how they determine what posts I should see in my feed, but I am certain I am not seeing everything.

Also, with my blog reader I scroll through posts and do not get a chance to comment on the garments. It is just more challenging on a phone and in the blog reader format to do so. But I want to comment – I certainly have a lot to say – and I love comments on my blog. I feel like many of you are friends, and I don’t want to limit our conversation. I know there has been some talk of blogging dying out, but I refuse to buy it. I still think it is so helpful and relevant to our sewing community. And I always feel so inspired by the posts I read, and that is so valuable to me!

So let’s get back to it! I’ll post the first Saturday of the month and the link up is open the rest of that month.

Just a few rules:

  • Women’s garments only
  • Made or blogged in the past month only – to avoid reposts.
  • The party is open about a month, until the last day of that month.
  • You don’t have to blog to join in! Link up your Pattern Review, your Kollabora project or even an Instagram pic. I know there are so many lovely things made that we never see because not everyone blogs. I have one person who emails me the pictures so I can get them up here.

Optional additional ideas:

  • If you are on a blogging platform that supports links, please link back to www.grayallday.com by using the Sew it Chic button in the sidebar, or just a simple mention in the text of your post. That way more people will find the party!
  • Look around and share a comment or 2 with a neighbor. I don’t mind admitting that I savor blog comments so much. They are encouraging and build community.
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Becoming a Cynthia Rowley fangirl with S1366

Simplicity 1366 outfitI was just in your face a week ago telling you how I loved my last dress, a Cynthia Rowley for Simplicity pattern, and here I am again with the same boring story! This time it is Simplicity 1366, which everyone else in the universe has tried and loved, so now it is my turn, damn it!

Simplicity 1366 camiThe pattern consists of a crazy skirt (would be fun to wear for an event, but not IRL so much), a spaghetti strapped bias camisole, and a perfectly cut boatneck boxy top. I dove in full throttle and made both the cami and the top, so this post is a two-fer.

Simplicity 1366 crepeFirst, the camisole is a really great basic pattern that could and should be made in every luxurious fabric you can get your hands on. My mystery fabric is some kind of crepe that flows and hugs in the most delightful way!  The bias cut just makes the fit suburb.

Simplicity 1366 rolled hemI made skinny straps that I left round like spaghetti, and finished the top edge with self binding instead of the enclosed facing pieces. The facing would probably be quicker and easier, but I only had like 3/4 yard of this lovely fabric and bias garments eat fabric like crazy. My binding was very pieced together, but I made it work. For the bottom I just used the rolled hem on my serger. A word of warning – hang the top up on your dressform over night before hemming because it did distort, even just that tiny bit of fabric!

Simplicity 1366 top with shortsThen I moved onto the top. Another mysterious piece of crepey chiffon (sorry, I thrift shop and shop the LA fashion district and nothing is marked) but this one is much sheerer. It was also quite a bit harder to sew, but I still managed to do french seams on this sides. I had to just serge the armholes, though, because after going over the side seams twice while doing those french seams and feeling the shifty dance under my sewing foot, I knew I could not set a smooth sleeve if I tried to use french seams.

Simplicity 1366 backThen, when I tried it on, I saw that the fabric had shifted quite badly in one spot while I cut it and I had to even the hem out by nearly an inch. That almost made the top too short for long torsoed me, so I preserved length by serging and flipping the bottom hem. The neckline I finished with vintage pre-made bias binding. The leftovers from my last dress, actually.

Simplicity 1366 topNot much of a story to tell, except I love this pattern and Cynthia and I must rush out and get ever one she’s ever made and sew them up immediately! There is a reason this pattern is so popular, I can assure you!

Simplicity 1366 1Quick points:

  • Bias cut camisole results in a such a beautiful fit that hugs and skims.
  • The top is deceptively simple but so well cut. I didn’t bother reading the instructions, I just finished it the way I felt was best for the fabric.
  • Here are some of my favorite iterations of this great pattern: Pippi, Elizabeth, and Lara’s sweater version.

Cynthia Rowley has my heart with Simplicity 1939

Simplicity 1939 dress chiffonYou never know what you are going to get when thrift shopping, especially for patterns. Actually, mostly you do know what you are going to get…80’s big shouldered dresses, or some shapeless “Easy” frocks. But 1 lucky day I unearthed this OOP Simplicity 1939 dress for 69 cents. Yes!

Navy chiffon border print dressWhen I paired it with this beautiful border print heavy chiffon, I knew I was making things difficult for myself. I only had 2 yards because I had bought it like 3 or 4 years ago at the Sew Expo in WA at the Vogue fabrics booth. I couldn’t have known at that time that this pattern was going to fall into my lap!

S1939 dress with tiesI cut my pattern pieces out and played tetris on the fabric. If I eliminated the armhole bands, took width out of the skirt, and cut the ties down the left overs, I had just enough. And I mean just.

Simplicity 1939 sew in chiffonWhat I did was redrafted the front and back pattern pieces to add the width of the finished armhole bands onto those pieces. It only made those pattern pieces a little wider, but eliminated some big fabric hogs that were those bands. It simplified the sewing process a bit, too. I ended up finishing my armholes with navy vintage bias tape I also found thrifting!

S1939 chiffon dress sewFor the ties around the neck, I just used the scrap I had left. I was glad I got a bit of the border at one end to make it more interesting up near my face. I could only cut 1 tie that I doubled over and used to finish the neckline.

S1939 dress in navy chiffonI had to line up the hem of the skirt with the border, and I didn’t want to cut any of the lovely moss green color off, so I just made a very narrow hem by folding over my selvedge and stitching it. I also wanted to preserve the length, because I’m kind of a tall girl and nothing is worse than a too short maxi dress!

Cynthia Rowley pattern 1939 For the innards, I interfaced the waist yoke and inserted an invisible zipper. I have no idea if that was in the instructions or not, but it seemed necessary, so it probably was. When I tried it on, the yoke seemed a little large, so I added elastic into the top seam to keep it from slipping down.

Cynthia Rowley Simplicity pattern dress 1939This is my favorite dress ever. I will wear this dress every week this summer and feel like a million dollars in it. Look at the drape of those shoulders! The cute tie! And in my favorite colors ever! Cynthia Rowley, you design a mean dress.

I entered this dress, and 5 other garments, in to the Endless Combinations contest at Pattern Review. You should go check out all the lovely things the ladies made and go vote for your favorite,

Quick bullets:

  • Interior engineering of interfacing, invisible zipper and elastic in the yoke.
  • Had to change the pattern quite a bit to fit on 2 yards of fabric, but I succeeded!
  • Surprisingly lovely pattern! I might try the raglan sleeve version. Cynthia Rowley does good work.

 

 


Dressy Nantucket Shorts

Summer Sewing blog tourMy new climate pretty much demands shorts during the summer. I’m not much of a shorts girl, though. So I’m trying some new styles and trying to figure out a way to incorporate them into my wardrobe. I want my shorts to look a little more put together, but still be comfortable in the heat. They must go with my fancy shoes!

Seamwork Nantucket ShortsFor the shorts and capris blog tour I tried out the Nantucket shorts from Seamwork Magazine. Without the grommets and drawstring, it is a very simple and quick pattern with nice lines.

Seamwork Nantucket shorts grayTo make them dressier I picked out this smooth gray mystery fabric from my stash. It has nice drape but is still substantial enough to cover my bum. I think this pattern looks best in a less structured fabric, so they hang nicely.

Colette Seamwork patterns nantucketI made the size recommended by my hip measurement, and I find the fit to be roomy around my hips – I will go down a size next time. My serious concern about the sizing is the very low rise and the very short back curve. I don’t have much back there, but if you do, these shorts won’t cover all of it. My suggested alterations are to raise the front rise an inch or so and the back rise an inch and a half to 2 inches. I might scoop the back curve out a tiny bit more, also.

seamwork nantucket sorts dressyThe tulip shape in the front is a cute detail, but again, fabric choice matters so much. If this was made in a more casual fabric, that tulip shape can make it look pretty sporty. In fact, you could wrap your front hem and back hem in bias tape and they would look very sporty indeed. It would be a totally different look!

seamwork patterns nantucket shortsI made a simple elastic casing for this pair, but there are lots of options for different ways to finish the waistband that could elevate the look. I knew this was just a first draft so I didn’t get too fancy.

I made these for this fun blog tour, hoping to get you all in the mood to start some summer sewing! I hope my thoughts have been helpful, and I know my friends on the tour also have some informative reviews to share (and maybe a giveaway, too), so go check them out! Thanks!

Sewing By Ti

Creative Counselor

Gray All Day

MSL Creations

Sew Sophie Lynn

The Socially Awkward Seamstress