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!


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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!


Sleeves are the star of this M7564 blouse

M7564 top modified

The 2nd round of the Pattern Review Sewing Bee called for fabulous sleeves, so I had to answer! It was a great challenge that saw me starting 3 different projects, but I’m glad I finished this one and entered it and I will get back to the other projects once I’ve rested a bit.

I used this beautiful silk-cotton I have been saving for years! I have loved it and vacillated about which project to use it for it seems like dozens of times. I purchased it my first trip to the LA fashion district, and it now occurs to me that I can go get more if I feel I need to.  If not this exact print, this same texture is available at my favorite store up there. But I think it all turned out beautifully and I really will be wearing this top a lot and enjoying this fabric on my actual self! BTW, it is the same type of fabric as my Kanerva blouse of a previous .. Sewing Bee.

Silk cotton blouse with leather

I wrote a very detailed review for the contest, so I’ll copy and paste it here if you didn’t see it over there:

Pattern Description: McCall’s 7564 Very loose fitting, pullover dresses have sleeve, length and hem variations.

Pattern Sizing: XS – XL. I made a medium.

Did it look like the photo/drawing on the pattern envelope once you were done sewing with it?
I made many changes, including chopping it off to a top and adding quite a bit of pizzazz to the sleeves. It is a basic raglan sleeve peasant dress pattern with a neckband.

Were the instructions easy to follow?  This was definitely my own creation, and I did not use the instructions.

M7564 blouse sleeve modifiedWhat did you particularly like or dislike about the pattern? It has a very small neck opening. I had to discard the neckband piece.

Fabric Used: Light but crisp cotton silk. I love this kind of fabric! And I added just a bit of leather!

Pattern alterations or any design changes you made:
I first added pintucks to the front and sleeves. As I cut I had to be sure and add width to account for the fabric taken up by the pintucks, but the pattern fit is forgiving, so I did not have to be too exact.

The flouncy sleeve was easily embroidered and pintucked. It moves the eye down to the leather detail and the huge ruffle. I used the leather as a bit of a fluffing tool. The top of the leather strip is attached to the sleeve then topstiched down, but when I attached the doubled over ruffle, I loved how the leather seam allowance assisted the ruffle to keep from collapsing, I wanted more body in the ruffle, so the two layers were the first step, but then the method of attaching to the leather was even more helpful in that regard. It feels so dramatic and full now! Yay!

I planned on a front placket as the pattern shows for the front piece, but my diagonal tucks made that impossible, I needed to keep the front open to show off the tucks, but ended up with a front center seam to straighten things out. Design feature opportunity! I added embroidery to the front to keep my seam allowance down. I ended up loving it so much and was glad to have a tie in with the sleeve detail. I also added a button because I didn’t like it open after all that. But I’m glad I got my pintucks in at least.

M6475 silk cotton topI used almost all french seams, since the fabric is so light and transparent. I did have to serge the ruffle attached to the sleeve, but it does not show through since it joins to the leather there. I used a facing to make my casing for the neckline elastic because I think that lays much nicer and and it gained some stability.

My wash off stabilizer used for the embroidery gave the fabric a rumpled appearance that emphasized the embroidery and pintucks and I’m pleased. Let’s be honest, this blouse is not going to stay wrinkle free, and it shouldn’t have to! I wanted an easy-to-wear blouse that stood out as unique! I think I achieved that and the drama of the sleeves is showstopping!

Conclusion: I feel like I can take flight in my sleeves, and yet this top can go with jeans, shorts, or a dressed up skirt and is not actually fussy. I slipped my signature leather detail in there, but I think it maintains the boho vibe of the top.

McCall's 7564 outfit


Named Lourdes Jacket for the Hack It! Challenge

Named Lourdes jacket hackHere is a fun little (by little, I mean very involved) project I put together for The Monthly Stitch’s Indie Pattern month. I just have to participate every year, it is so fun! I especially appreciated how they moved it to July this time around. June is packed, but in July we have the lazy days of summer upon us and I had time to sew this fun and versatile jacket for the Hack It! contest.

Named Lourdes Jacket with ruffleI love love love Named Patterns. They fit so well, they have wonderful instructions, and the styles are amazing. I actually won the Named Lourdes Jacket from a previous Monthly Stitch IPM contest, so this is such a perfect use! But just because I hacked this pattern does not mean that I do not adore the original design, oh no! I’ll be making a straight version of this jacket, I’m sure.

navy nordstrom jacketBut for this fun version, I was inspired by the Nordstrom sale…I know you all see those posts and flit over to their website, click around and think “Hey, I could make that!” I saw this cute jacket, but if there is one thing I know, it is that I DO NOT NEED another navy jacket. But white would be terrific. I happen to have some beautiful white tweed with silver threads through it waiting for me.

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What I did was utilized the cut made for front darts to insert my ruffle just on the side and back. Then I simply chopped off the sleeves to add a matching ruffle there. The modification became tricky when it got to the lining. I ended up leaving the lining free at the bottom and hemming my tweed normally. It would have been so cool to bag my lining, but I couldn’t do it this time. I also left off the buttons, as my inspiration jacket didn’t have any.

This pattern is beautiful and goes together very well. It does have a ton of steps and it took quite a while to even get to the sewing! There is a lot of interfacing (especially important with my ravelly tweed!) and they want you to finish many of your seams before you start. It is like they knew I was making it out of this difficult fabric, because those important steps were so necessary for my project and turned it into a really nicely finished product.

IMG_4467 (2)Some notes about the pattern – it is short! Very cropped. I even added length and you can see how cropped it still is with me wearing high waist jeans. The shoulders are also a little narrow. There is a very cool sleeve detail I had to leave off because of my ruffle but can’t wait to try on my next version. I do highly recommend this pattern and I love the finished product. It will be so handy to have a stylish white jacket, as soon as the temperature drops just a little!