Like a skirt, but not – Butterick 6178

This was an unfinished project for a long time. Let me tell you a story… 2016 Pattern Review Sewing Bee was humming along(buzzing along, I guess I should say) . I got into the third round — woo hoo! But the third round last year was the Colette Rue dress challenge. Many of you know that the Rue had drafting problems, and that Colette had to issue a bit of an apology. Well, I didn’t know it was the pattern’s fault and the tears I shed over that project were numerous.

I started the challenge with such a great idea – create a jumpsuit with the Rue bodice and wide leg pants. And I found this great rayon chambray with gold arrows! It had weight and drape and personality. Cute, right? I got to work on a muslin, since fitting is always, always such an important part of the PR Sewing Bee. In many ways fitting is pretty straightforward for me. I know my fitting challenges and can anticipate them, but a complicated bodice like this needed to be muslined. Well, I muslined 3 times (a record for me, I assure you) and then got tired of that process and cut into the fabric.

Another great detail I wanted to incorporate was gold piping into the vertical bodice seam to emphasize the style lines. I sewed it all together, tried it on, and it didn’t fit. I took it apart, adjusted, sewed it back together, and it didn’t fit. And by then my piping was creeping around and was disheveled. I had made custom piping, that I cut at the end of the seam, but when I moved that seam the end of the piping was too short and didn’t go together cleanly anymore.

I ended up giving up. I didn’t enter a project into the third round, even though I earned a spot. It killed me to give up, but I knew that I couldn’t put that disaster up there to be judged, and I really thought it was my lack of fitting skills that made it so unsuccessful. We know now that the pattern had problems. What I’ve come to realize is that it was my lack of fitting skills that ruined me, because even though the pattern was flawed, many of those talented seamstresses made beautiful garments from it. They really did make it work! I know a lot of them also had problems, but they persevered and prevailed. In that way, it was very fair and a great challenge of skills. Those ladies crushed it!

But I was very sad about the whole thing, since I wait all year to compete in that contest. Finally, many months later, I was able to look at the project again and decide how to salvage the item. I removed that pesky bodice and added a waistband to create these pants!

The sewing for this was blissfully straightforward and was almost complete when I picked it back up anyway. The pattern I used was Butterick 6178, and I do recommend it. It has an invisible zipper and a nice waistband. Nice pockets! It swishes around when i walk in a very pleasing way! Very fun to wear. I’m glad I didn’t waste this great fabric, and this style of pant is fun and is great in the summer. I need more fitted tops, I think I’ve mentioned that before, but this fun skirt/pant is a great addition to the wardrobe.

Weekly Threads #3 – What do I actually wear?

First of all, I was so excited to see Melanie from Following the Thread got to interview Cassie Stocks, the author of our current book for The Literary Sewing Circle. Are you reading Dance, Gladys, Dance with us? Cassie sews a bit, too, so that was thrilling to read and I feel like we are friends now, too! Our sewing community is the best!

For my wardrobe review, as suggested by The Curated Closet book, I took photos of a week of outfits to analyze. Here they are:

wardrobe reflection 1

wardrobe reflection2

What I noticed – I do like a bit of color and should maybe incorporate more into my outfits. I like a loose shape, but I’m not sure that is always the most flattering. My favorite outfit to wear was the striped pencil skirt and Anthropologie top. That skirt fits me perfectly and the top is easy breezy! I should have worn more elegant shoes with it, though. I was being lazy an slipped my Birks on. My favorite outfit from looking at these pictures is my Saiph dress and the WHBM jacket. I love me a jacket to pull an outfit together, and this jacket gave this unstructured dress the perfect look. Of course, cozy-wise I loved wearing my new moss green velour turtleneck and flared Paige jeans. We had a lot of fun that day at Disney, so there’s that.

I also observed I like texture! Velvet, crepe, tweed and double gauze are fun fun fun to wear. That works out since lots of my recent WIP are textured, too. I guess that goes back to fabric choice and what I tend to buy.

Next couple weeks I’ll be collecting images (which I actually do all the time) and analyze the overall aesthetic of my wardrobe hopes and dreams. That is going to be a hard step, I think. Some of my style longings are so aspirational that I need to get a grip. Anyone else feel like that? Yes, I can wear anything I want to, but do I? I am a work at home mom who lives in the suburbs. I sit at a desk, get my kids from school, and walk the dog. On exciting days we go out to a coffee shop or hang out with my extended family! But expressing my style is still important, just in a practical way.

Speaking of inspiration, Shauni from The Magnificent Thread made such a cool coat! Oh how I wish I needed something so warm and stylish as that! I didn’t even know what a gilet was before reading her post.

Then Katrina from Offsquare posted a sunny yellow wrap skirt that I just love! The shape and details are so unique and I wanted the pattern immediately. It sent me on a long exploration of the Pattern Easy website where I saw lots of patterns I obviously needed. Oh my!

In related news, StyleArc is having a sale (just through tonight!) on some of their PDF patterns. I want the Sia knit dress, the Cher knit dress, the Keely knit top and the Ethel designer top. But I know I don’t have time to sew them! It is so hard to refrain, especially since we are in our second month of the Ready to Wear Fast and I’m getting shopping withdrawls hard.

For the Match Your Shoes contest on Pattern Review I have made such a fun fur jacket, but the contest requires a full outfit, so I hope to complete my Berlin skirt and some kind of top to enter by the end of the week. I feel like the designer on Project Runway who makes something amazing for the top of their model but realize half hour before the runway show that they have nothing for the bottom. Then they pull together a lumpy mess of a skirt and it ruins the whole presentation. This Berlin skirt was supposed to be my wearable muslin, but it may be my contest entry!



Our last Clothes Making Mavens podcast episode was all contributions! We were so happy to hear different perspectives. And I’ll bet you like hearing other voices besides just Lori and I!

It is Sew Sunday over at my house. I hope you are all getting a few stitches in!

A most impractical Toaster Sweater

Toaster sweater suedeIt just really doesn’t make sense to make a sweater out of fabric with holes, right? But I did!

Toaster Sweater fabricThis is the Sew House Seven Toaster Sweater #2, a very popular pattern for good reason. I made this months ago and forgot to blog it. Every time I pull it out to wear it I remember Hey! I should throw this on the blog and tell everyone how much I love it.

IMG_3720 (2) (Medium)This is the weirdest fabric, kinda a suede-like laser cut with some stretch to it. Since it is not cold here, I thought I would like some holes in my sweater! But these pictures were taken on quite a windy day and actually, I wished it wasn’t so breezy. I’m such a goldilocks, aren’t I? Also, the suede was catching on my camisole and it looks like it is pulling, but actually the fit is quite nice through the shoulder and bust.

Toaster sweater funnel neckSo, it is a very nice pattern. I like the fold over facing on the funnel neck, I like the hi-lo hem and mitered corners. It is great to wear with slim jeans because the bodice is pretty boxy. And the entire look is effortless but modern, and perfect when I’m just working from home and I don’t want to get dressed really, but this is still an outfit.

Toaster sweater with pupI would like opinions on this mauve color. I love this color so much, but I know that very few people do. What are your thoughts? I feel like it is subtle, almost a neutral, but not beige or in the brown/warm tones family. I don’t think I have any clothing on the warm side of the spectrum! I wear only blues/grays/pinks/greens. And that is a big reason I was so excited to see blush popping up everywhere this last year — I think it is such a fun alternative to beige.  And yet I know beige and camel can be so useful.

Softest softy McCall’s 7660 turtleneck

IMG_7800 (Medium)Quote from my husband, “it’s like having my very own velveteen rabbit!” My whole family keeps petting me, even my reluctant teenager.

This is just the best thing to snuggle into when it is cold outside, and you don’t want to put on clothes, really, but you have to. Then, when you shimmy into your jeans and block boots you actually feel pretty darn fabulous because this thing is stylish, too!

McCa;;s 7660 velvetAt my favorite store in the LA fashion district, the very helpful salesman pointed to a stack of fabrics piled up to the ceiling and said “These just came in from Nordstrom” and placed this fabric beneath my fingers and I was in love. I was already on the lookout for moss green anything, because I’m just loving it as a colorful neutral, and this fabric was so perfect for me. Technically it is velour, but it is so much softer than regular velour, I swear.

M7660 ve;our backI knew that I needed to get this cut up and sewn fast so I could wear it on all of our half dozen cold days here, so I picked a simple but trendy shape and made McCall’s 7660. It is basically just a turtleneck sweatshirt with balloon sleeves. Cute and high impact. But when I saw how that balloon sleeve pattern piece was actually shaped, like a round ruffle where the long side must be shoved into the tiny cuff piece, I thought the better of that. This fabric is thick and would not have gathered nicely.

M7660 moss greenSo I used the regular slim sleeve pattern and cut 2 slashes up from the cuff to create a bishop sleeve instead. Yes, there was still some gathering into the cuff, but it worked out perfectly. This sleeve shape is actually closer to the inspiration velvet sweatshirt I spotted months ago.

McCalls 7660 necklineThe turtleneck didn’t go quite as well. Despite basting and carefully sewing, I got some slight gathering at the neckline. I thought it would smooth out when I put it on my actual neck, but you can see that it did not. I need to go back and resew that smoother.

I’m especially frustrated about that because I deliberately sewed up the shoulders and put the turtleneck in first so that I wouldn’t stretch out the cut neckline while handling it. Does anyone else do that also? I am constantly worried about fabric distortion, and yet here I am without a perfect neckline still. Sob.

McCalls 7660 sweatshirtThese pictures were taken at Downtown Disneyland, so I took the opportunity to wear my cute top and grab pictures before I realized how wrinkled the neckline was. I will fix it, but whether I get new pictures where I’ve actually combed my hair is doubtful, so I am going ahead and publishing these.

One velvet project down, many more to go!


My Weekly Thread #2 – make all the velvet things

I guess I should be calling this my Bi-Weekly Thread. In 2 weeks I gather a lot of thoughts for you all.

It has been a weird couple weeks of adjusting to the Ready to Wear fast. What do I do when I’m bored? Shop online. Now, I can still look with my eyes innocently at the fashions at my favorite stores, but I don’t want to. And it is not just because I am lamenting the fact that I can’t buy (I chose to do this fast after all) but I do not want to add more projects to my to-sew list! I feel the need to pare down the list and focus, instead of expand and scatter my attention. It is funny how sometimes I want more and sometimes I crave less.

Velvet shoes!

Velvet shoes!

It may be a product of the hardcore decluttering and reorganization that I’ve been deep in lately. We spent the first 2 years here in this bigger house thinking storage would never end, but the reality is that I don’t want too much stuff, no matter what size house I have; it is just overwhelming. So I have been thinking about these things a lot, and the sewing room is getting the side eye. My stash all got refolded and that meant I looked at each piece. I ended up donating quite a few things that I picked up a thrift stores years ago under the guise of “I might need this someday”. I guess I haven’t needed it yet!

I also got rid of some fabrics that have kind of gone out of style, and that breaks my damn heart. I didn’t ever sew them up when I loved them and would have enjoyed them, and I am now determined not to do that with the fabrics I’ve bought more recently. So I need focus, and to build on the inspiration those current fabrics represent. Like velvet!

Velvet haulLast time I was in LA I bought several cuts of velvet. I just love that texture right now, I even have a pair of velvet shoes! But the winter here is short and sweet, and soon velvet will be unthinkable, so i need to hurry and sew them up and enjoy them! I’ll share my first item this week. For amazing inspiration, I saw Tanya’s silk velvet dress and nearly died. That dress is a work of art! The covered buttons and matching belt are perfection.

dayandnightdresschallengeTEAM2018I am thrilled to have been invited by the Elizabeth of ElizabethMadeThis to take part in the Day and Night dress challenge. The lineup of bloggers/bloggers is epic and there is going to be a deluge of dress inspiration coming your way Feb 22 – 28. And, in my opinion, even better than the actual tour is finding so many new to me bloggers/vloggers to follow! I just recently got into the YouTube thing, so I’m just gobbling that up. Go follow and subscribe to every single one of these ladies!

Still some painting to do on my room, but it is rearranged, the TV is hung and the new couch is in. Now I can have visitors to my sewing room. My daughters and I like to watch Gilmore Girls while I sew and now they don’t have to sit on the pins on the floor. Also, I’ve always wanted a pink couch!

Sewing room progress

Sewing room progress

I am so deeply in love with this site The Vivienne Files. Not by the actual clothing pics, since they can be a bit basic and she always relies on neutral bottoms. I like to pick more unique clothes for my wardrobe. But the color combos, and how she lays the wardrobes out are so inspiring! I especially love when she draws her palette from a scarf or piece of artwork. She also has some very practical advice on travel wardrobes and wardrobe building that I love to read but don’t put into practice. Go check it out!

I told myself that I needed to wrap up this illness (I got sick twice during the Christmas break and I didn’t think that was fair!) and I assume I won’t need to catch anything again until next fall? But the undeniable upshot was that I completed 3 books already this year, making my 100 book goal seem very do-able. In that vein, I’m looking forward to joining in the readalong and sewalong on Following the Thread since Melanie just announced the new book – Dance, Gladys, Dance by Cassie Stocks. I’ve never heard of it, so I’m excited to start reading (and sewing).

The Fancy Silk Kate Top

Grayallday Tessuti Kate topI’m actually making good on my list and sewing these patterns up! The Kate top is one of my favorites and I knew that even if I used my super special golden silk that I’d be happy I used this pattern, and I was right. I love the fit and I love the construction, even with the challenges of the silk and the slippery lining.

Tessuti Kate top silkThis very special silk was purchased with my mom in the LA fashion district and I knew exactly what I wanted it to be. I also new from experience that NOT ONE BIT of those metallic threads could be touching me or I would hate to wear it. A prime example is this beautiful top. There were just a few little places where the fabric touched me, it was mostly lined, but boy did those spots irritate me and I rarely wore the blouse, despite how beautiful it was. I just recently gave it away. Sob.

Tessuti Kate top back viewSo, the top is carefully underlined and then the neckline and armholes are bound with the satin lining so that the silk doesn’t poke at all. Success! It is actually quite comfortable to wear!

Tessuti Kate Silk miteredI constructed the silk and the lining tanks separately. I used French seams on the silk, and serged the lining tank. I finished the hems with the beautiful mitered corners. Then I placed them together, basted them at the neck and armholes, and used self made bias tape to enclose those edges.Silk Kate top lined

IMG_6930 (Medium)It took forever, and I can see there are a few places that are not perfectly on-grain (how handy those metallic threads are for highlighting that fact, eh?) but I really feel like this top is a big success for me. I have a ton of gold in my wardrobe now, including shoes and accessories, so this Kate top will slide right in. I prewashed my silk, which is why it is not perfectly flat, and I enjoy the more crinkled texture, and since I sewed it after I will be able to wash this. It is a little cold so I had to wear pants for these pictures, but isn’t it going to be so cute with skirts or even shorts?

IMG_6891 (Medium)


How to Craft your Perfect Sewing Goals

What is more fun and inspiring than seeing so many recaps and goals popping up these last few weeks? Nothing, except writing your own personal and motivating goals that will help push and guide you throughout the upcoming creative year! I know that I am ready for that challenge, but when I sat down with a pen and paper I wondered what I wanted to accomplish.

Now sewing is a hobby, and I am personally trying to avoid indulging in my tendency to push, effort and strive in everything, because I can exhaust myself by doing that with every aspect of my life. But I do love sewing and I know that goals are very fun! I also adore crossing things off my list!

So how do we choose our goals? There are a couple things I thought of to consider.

  1. Wardrobe gaps – I know sometimes I like to sew the next shiny new pattern that catches my eye, and sewing basics isn’t the most glamorous, but when you can have taken a look at your wardrobe and realized that a white button down shirt will pull together so many of your other beloved handmade items, the value becomes clear and that sewing goal becomes very valuable.
  2. Community sewalongs or challenges – The lonely nature of solo sewing makes these events such a celebration, especially of inspiritation and support. I have made many friends during these kinds of events. They have the added bonus of a deadline to keep you on track!
  3. Reaching for the next level in your sewing journey – Tried and true patterns are wonderful, and as a sewist it is great to have an arsenal of projects and patterns you know you will love to make and wear, but there is always something new to learn in sewing. We don’t have to take on a couture gown, but you can widen your sewing repertoire by a technique or 2 that stretches you. Or break into a new category of sewing that you haven’t tried, like lingerie.
  4. Emulate another or try a new style- Our community is filled with so many amazing seamstresses. I am constantly amazed. The best part of getting inspired by another sewist is that we can usually get details on pattern and fabric choices that can help you recreate it! And the diversity of women’s sizes, ages, coloring and styles mean you can get inspired by an actual person, not just a skinny young model.
  5. Make time for a big project – some projects we look forward to but avoid because of the huge commitment of the time our hobby takes up. Something that requires quilting or topstitching, or a lot of handsewing or fitting are intimidating, but so worth it. When that goal is completed, it feels especially great.
  6. Control your stash – Sometimes it is possible for our stuff to overwhelm us, and sewing supplies are so easy to collect. My fabric stash brings me great joy, but it can also crowd my space and my mental energy to just remember it all. And there is also the important fact that I want to see those beautiful fabrics sewn up and worn, where they can be admired and enjoyed even more! But some people may be in a different situation where they want to grow their stash, or only add sustainable fabrics.
  7. Sustainability – this can mean so many different things to different people, but the main idea that I’ve seen and would like to adopt is consciousness. The goal is don’t just make as much as you can with whatever fabrics you buy, buy, buy. By taking time to set goals in a thoughtful way you can raise your consciousness about what you are consuming, even though we all are sewing for fun and have such a passion for it!


With these things in mind, I am ready to make my goals for the year. Here goes nothin’!

The Ready to Wear Fast – this will make me focus on wardrobe gaps and try my hand at sewing basics, which I’ve never been drawn to and I may, in fact, hate. But over the years I have made some T-shirts and jeans, and it may be just the thing to get the fabric, fit and quality just right. Or I may end up over complicating every garment I make as usual.

Make every single one of my top 10 patterns – I have already made 2! I will blog the second soon.

Possible French jacket fabrics

Possible French jacket fabrics

The French jacket – Imma really gonna do it this year, guys! I really think I would wear it, too. I’d love to make a big beautiful coat, but I don’t really need one. I fact, I miss my coats that hang forlornly in the closet now, worn so seldom. But a light tweed jacket? It would go so well with all my jeans! This is really the year for it – I hope I am patient enough finally.

Swimwear – we just installed a pool in our backyard and I need new suits! I honestly have swimsuits from before I was married. The truth is, while living in chilly Washington, a swimsuit would get so little use that they would last for years and years. But I have already seen that start to change since moving here and swimming so much more. The old standby suits are getting worn out and I can see I’ll need several more for all the different water related stuff we love to do here in California. We swim at my pool, we water ski at the lake and we go to the beach. It is worth investing time into these swimsuits! Water related activities are some of our favorite family time.

Morgan jeans and pleated pants – I’ve been wearing skinny jeans/pants for years, and I’m looking forward to loosening up that silouhoutte and feeling less stuffed into my pants! Haha!

Lingerie – I am so displeased with all the molded foam bras that dominate the lingerie departments, so I would really like to try to make customized bras. Lingerie sewing is such a new skill that it should be a fun!

Stash reduction – keeping it simple. 2 yards out = 1 yard in.

Sew a Stitch a Day – As mentioned in my last post, I made this goal to prod me into keeping moving, even when I feel stuck. I also want to reduce my UFOs and my mountain of mending/alterations.

cropped-ClothesMakingMavens_Logo_SquarePodcast more and Blog more – There are lots of topics I’d like to talk about or write about that aren’t only finished garments. I’m sure some readers will skip over my wordy posts, but I feel the need for some variety, and I have a lot to say! And if you aren’t subscribed to the Clothes Making Mavens podcast, what are you waiting for? It is available on all the usual podcast collecting streams. If it isn’t available on your favorite, please let me know so I can submit it ASAP.

I’ll be taking part in several challenges and sewalongs, too. I can’t wait for those!

I’ve been devouring everyone’s goal lists and #makenine images. Does anyone else have goal considerations I didn’t think of? Maybe I need to add more goals… it is so motivating!

My Weekly Thread #1 – goals and stuff

This is going to be a place I spill my thoughts on the threads running through my life and the sewing community.

I love New Year’s Day! I love the fresh start and I love to make goals and resolutions. I actually make goals all through the year, and have recently become a convert to the concept of 90 day goal setting. It is already working better for me. But the New Year is a special time of reflection and goal setting, especially since everyone else is talking about it, too. I love reading everyone’s re-sew-lutions and #2018MakeNine goals!

I really love Elise Joy’s Daily Goal tracker to keep track of my little steps. I think you need to sign up for her newsletter to get it, but they are great to see on one page how you are doing. Maybe I am going overboard by printing 9 of them, and I may drop some of those daily steps later, but I wanted to start the year off with high hopes.

The pertinent one I will mention here (you don’t want to hear about my flossing habits) is “Sew a Stitch”. I put this on the daily tracker to remind myself to take a little step, even when I’m feeling unsure of the next step or discouraged that the project isn’t turning out exactly as envisioned. Also, I have a huge pile of mending/alterations that I can pick up at any moment to work on if I’m not up for working my current project.

Now I know that this daily step will not be totally consistent. There will be days that I don’t make it into the sewing room, or I will be out of town, or lots of other things. But the goal is to keep pressing forward a little at a time and these trackers of Elise Joy’s motivate me to do that.

And a great reason to push forward is that I (foolishly?) signed up for the Ready to Wear fast this year, organized by Sarah from Goodbye Valentino. When Lori, my podcast partner, mentioned she was signing up, I thought ok, she’s crazy, but maybe I’ll join in…I could not have guessed that 1027 other people besides us two would also join! Wow! Lori and I aren’t the only crazies out there! I’m sure it is going to be fun, and we will certainly see lots of creativity as a result.

And that leads me to another process I’ll be going through this year, The Curated Closet book by Anuschka Rees. Yes, I got this for Christmas last year, and I read it, but didn’t apply the concepts and certainly didn’t apply it to my sewing since I lacked sewing mojo for so much of 2017. The RTW fast and my new sewing room redo is ramping up my enthusiasm for sewing again, and this book can help make sure that I am making the best garments for my wardrobe and my personal style.

The first step the book suggests is to take pics of my outfits that I wear and think critically about what I like and don’t about each one. I planned on beginning this week, but all progress on many, many of my goals has been halted by getting sick for the second time in a month. I was sick the week before Christmas, too! Unfair!

Old Sewing Room

Old Sewing Room

Current Mess but new TV hung!

Current Mess but new TV hung!

I am in the middle of a big rearranging, organizing and decorating project of my sewing room/office. It has been so much fun and each piece is so exciting – like my husband hung the new TV last week! It is on a swivel so I’ll be able to see it from nearly every vantage point. But my room is so big and stuffed full of stuff that the process is slow and piecemeal. I have to clear a wall, paint it (from old yellow to crisp white), move those things back, then go to another section. And now that I’m sick, progress has come to a halt. Grrrrr. My new pink futon couch is hanging out in our foyer waiting for me to paint the left wall. So frustrating!

I hope that pink couch will be a good place to record some videos for YouTube! I have recently got obsessed with Sewing YouTubers, and I just think it is such a fun way to talk about sewing and get to know people in our community. I have enlisted the help of my 13 year old to be my video editor, since she took a class at the Apple store last summer, and I have ideas of things to talk about. BUT, I have no idea how I will come across on camera, so this idea is not a commitment to publish any videos, it is only a commitment to film some and try it out. Maybe I’ll hate it? Who knows!

Cute binder for my Sewing Planner

Cute binder for my Sewing Planner

A sewing YouTuber I enjoy is Athina Kakou , and I really loved her sewing planner idea! She gives a detailed tour here, but I really loved how she thought about the sewing community and how we can use our planners to build relationships and participate in group sewalongs and challenges. I love those challenges but often forget about them or lose focus. Her planner helps corral all those ideas and I think it is really going to help me this year!

I’ve already got quite a list of challenges I’m planning for. Pattern Review has some great contests coming up this year, and the first one seems as if it was created just for me! The Outfit to Match your Shoes was announced right after I bought these beautiful boots that I simply couldn’t resist, even knowing that I had no idea what to wear with them!

I need an outfit to match these shoes!

I need an outfit to match these shoes!

The Monthly Stitch’s theme is this month is reSEWlutions. The Sewcialists are focusing on stripes in February. Bra maker’s supply is highlighting purple this month as the new Pantone Color of the Year. My favorite Facebook group, Sewalongs and Sewing Contests, is encouraging us to sew jackets, coats, capes and cardigans. That’ll be easy, as I have a few of those planned already.

The new year welcomes the new Sew My Style and it kicked off with the Sunny dress. I am not going to purchase this pattern as I think I already own some that are similar, but I LOVE seeing the inspiration all under one hashtag. Handy! And I am looking forward to interviewing Jessica Lorraine for the Clothes Making Mavens Podcast so we can all get excited about the rest of the year!

One more challenge I am intrigued by is the BurdaStyle challenge 2018 by Saturday Night Stitch. The idea is to make up one of the patterns in each month’s issue. Now I don’t have a current subscription, but if I take the challenge to urge me to make any more of my many magazine patterns, that would be great.  I have plenty earmarked from previous issues, and the styles are still very current. Or maybe I’ll just sign up for a subscription. I do love them so!

episode16Don’t forget that we just released podcast episode #16 with Barbara Emodi from Sewing on the Edge. She has a book coming out soon and I can’t wait to read it!

Have a great week!

A totally reversible dress – Vogue 1313

Vogue 1313 both

As I mulled over my options of what to wear this New Year’s Eve, I got so excited at the prospect of wearing this super fun dress that I made for the 3rd round of the Pattern Review Sewing Bee! Then I realized I had never blogged about it, and perhaps there were some people that didn’t follow the Sewing Bee as closely as I assume, so maybe I should share it here on my blog.

Vogue 1313 dressI wrote nearly a novel explaining my methods and details, so I am just going to copy and paste the contest entry here. If you already read it, I’m sorry! I had a lot to say about this project that nearly killed me. And it didn’t even get me to the last round! But I am going to rock it tonight, velvet side out probably, with green eyeshadow and black booties. And my fur capelet I only get to wear on fancy occasions! I’ll be able to eat a ton because of the stretchy side panels, and if I spill on myself, like I usually do, I can slip into the bathroom and reverse it!

Pattern Description: Semi-fitted dress has partially lined yokes, seam detail, no side seams, side front pockets, front exposed zipper and topstitching.

Pattern Sizing: 4 – 12. I went down a size to a 12 and lengthened it, as usual for me.

Were the instructions easy to follow? Unfortunately, there were not written instructions for how to make it a reversible dress with a single side panel. Haha! Figuring that out was the Sewing Bee challenge!

Vogue 1313 reversibleWhat did you particularly like or dislike about the pattern? I chose this pattern for my reversible dress because of the great seamlines and exposed zipper, which makes a perfect reversible closure.

Fabric Used: This dress is designed for knits, but I modified it to incorporate my non-stretch velvet.

V1313 velvet dressThe first and biggest decision of a Sewing Bee challenge is what fabric to choose, and in this case I wanted a stand out garment and a big challenge so I paired the moss green knit of the first side with a beautiful but slippery velvet for the other. I knew that the dresses would really contrast by using such different fabrics and it would be more than just a dress with a pretty lining.

IMG_4733 (2)Of course it would be a challenge to make 2 dresses and sew them together to make a reversible dress (sewing 2 dresses in a week!) but I wanted to up the ante by taking advantage of the fact that it is reversible. The way I choose to do this is to incorporate sheer fabric, so the reversibilty would be a helpful feature of lining, and by using one fabric in a single layer for the side panels and making it work for both dresses.

IMG_4728 (2)An important detail in any dress is the facings and how those might peek out. In this case I decided to use the same moss green fabric around the neckline for both sides to make sure it was nicely finished. I then got to play with the shoulder yoke fabrics, choosing leather for the moss green side and a diamond mesh activewear fabric for the velvet side. I love the leather with the military influence of the green side and the playfulness of diamond shapes goes with the large boho flowers on the velvet side.

IMG_4711 (2)I cut the velvet carefully with my flower placement in mind, moving the green stems towards the yoke to tie in the green neckline, and with bigger seam allowances to account for the lack of stretch and the ravelly fabric. I ended up treating the darts differently and lessened my darts on the velvet side to create a looser fit but still with the same shape as the other.

On the moss side, I knew the fit would be forgiving, but I did have to topstitch quite a bit because the spongy crepe texture of the knit didn’t press well. I decided to carry that topstitching through to the leather yoke to add interest. I added the pockets from the Anza dress pattern from itch to Stitch, without the pocket flaps. I love the pleated detail and it really emphasized the overall feeling of a more tailored, serious dress. Also, those pockets are easy to wear backwards when the dress is turned with the velvet side out. It truly is reversible. Of course the velvet is luscious to wear against my skin, too!

The zipper is reversible, but because of the 2 zipper pulls, it is quite heavy. I interfaced both fabrics along the front, but wish I had interfaced the neckline too. It collapses a little when the zipper is pulled all the way up. Next time I use a reversible zipper I’ll remember that.

IMG_4724I struggled and struggled with the single side panel detail. I loved the idea of sewing both fabrics to the one side panel and showcasing that versatility, and needed the knit panel to ensure the fit of the non-stretch velvet, but it was an engineering feat! And finishing! That feature took as long as the whole rest of the dress, and I wondered several times if it was such a great idea. Well, it turned out to be such a great feature because of the way it transformed the fit! The velvet side is looser, but those stretchy side panels keep it very flattering because it doesn’t have 2 layers down my sides making me look wider. I love that. And on the green side, it ties in the black leather detail and again makes it appear so much sleeker.

IMG_4666 (2)The whole process of the crazy side panel idea mirrors the creativity process as a whole – “I have a great idea! Oh wait, this is hard, this is crap, what a horrible idea. Oh wow! Now that it is complete, I can see it was a great idea. I am brilliant!” Don’t we all go through versions of this process during sewing?

I know everyone that did this challenge had to deal with the bulky seam allowances. I sure did! I feel like I was trimming and grading seams all day! Of course I had to finish all the velvet seams, many serged and all enclosed. The yokes I could just sew together and trim carefully. Turning those fabrics together would have been a mess. I used fold over elastic under the arms. The hems were tricky with the enclosed side panels, and after a couple of tries, it looked best with the knit side trimmed and a little serged and turned hem on the velvet.

Would you sew it again? Would you recommend it to others? I really liked this pattern and wonder how it would look in a stretch denim. Too bad there wasn’t 3 sides to my reversible garment! I know it is out of print, but I do recommend it.

Conclusion: This was quite a challenge but I really do love both dresses. It really highlights my skills and draws attention to the fact that I don’t know what my core style is! I want to try everything and I love wearing it both ways. Am I a romantic floral dress wearer? It is so fun. Do I love a sleeker style in trendy colors and leather details? That is fun, too! Thank you, Sewing Bee, for the chance to think outside the box!

True Named Love with another Inari dress

IMG_4485 (2)Yes, I’m a Named Patterns fangurl. It is just so fun making their patterns, and even more fun wearing them. Here is a complete Named outfit I made for The Monthly Stitch Indie Royalty competition. It took a while to make it onto this blog, but my blogging motivation has been low lately, I think I’ve mentioned.IMG_4498 (2)
To enter the contest I tried to quickly whip up an Inari dress. This is a great pattern and I’ve been scanning my fabric stash for possible matches since I made my beautiful linen version. This crepe is great because it has a bit of stretch and hangs with some weight. I wanted to preserve the stretch (especially around my hips), so I lined it with a lightweight jersey. It seems counter-intuitive to line a dress in this heat, but it helps to keep the back from sticking to my bum.

IMG_4504 (2)In classic Helena style, I stretched what should have been a simple 2 hour dress into a 4 hour marathon. The lining is, of course, extra work, but also the finishing of each seam seperately so I can press it flat, the stay stitching, the grading of the relevant seams. I even said to myself that I will just quickly make this simple dress to enter in this contest, just for fun, but I lied to myself. I got lost in the little details and then, before I knew it, it is the last possible minute to get my entry in and I’m begging my 8 year old to take my picture. But, the dress is really detailed and well made, and I should have modeled it inside out.

Named Inari Tee dress side

IMG_4470 (2)I especially like the pairing of the dress with my tweed Lourdes jacket. Truthfully I am not a very fancy lady, but the Inari dress is a casual shape and easy to wear, so it balances out the more formal and fancy Named Lourdes jacket. I am looking forward to wearing the jacket with jeans, too, but this outfit really is a fun one.

I don’t think I am done with the Inari pattern. Maybe I’ll just continue making a new one each summer until I have a dozen or so!