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!

IMG_4493 (3)

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!

Style Maker Fabrics for Fall! Papercut Saiph and Simplicity 8174

saiph-tunic-1At least I am ready for fall, even if the weather here in Southern California is not cooperating. It is supposed to be 100 today. I guess no one told Murrieta that it is now autumn.

saiph-dress-back-viewBut it turns out that my newest true love, Japanese double gauze, is fine for warmer temperatures, too. It is light and breezy and I whipped this gorgeous geometric floral into a Papercut Saiph tunic that I can wear now and later.

papercut-saiph-4I wasn’t sure what to expect when Style Maker Fabrics offered to send me some, but I had heard such glowing reviews that I had to try. So I received my package, wrapped nicely in tissue paper, and I was decidedly unimpressed with the fabric. It felt like a textured quilting cotton. I didn’t know what all the fuss was about. But after my pre-wash this fabric came out  of the dryer like the wings of an angel! It is so soft, with light loft and total opacity. It cuts, sews and presses so well and was a joy to work with. Thank you, Style Maker Fabrics – I am so glad I tried it! I feel like Sam I Am and I now want to sew double gauze in a box with a fox, on a boat with a goat…

saiph-tunic-2I have been thinking about a nice easy tunic shape and the Saiph did not disappoint. I was a bit flummoxed by the dart placement – they are really high! But I like the shoulders and the sleeves and I just moved that dart. I’ll move it down more next time. I also chopped off the sleeves a little bit -no need for full length sleeves here. I added a total of 3 inches to the bodice and skirt combined to make it a wearable dress on me.

saiph-dress-4But wait, there’s more!

A vest is such a great trendy fall piece, and perfect for my climate, right? Well, I meant to whip up a nice easy vest to top my outfit off, but instead I ended up making the most detailed moto jacket I’ve ever made, since I am a moto jacket addict. Whew! I had to squeeze it in between rounds of the PR Sewing Bee, but I just couldn’t resist when I pulled this fabric out of the box. The olive green faux suede has such a lovely hand and structure; it was begging to be a moto jacket.

saiph-with-jacketI used the Mimi G for Simplicity pattern 8174. Isn’t it a cool pattern with such fun details? I love the back vent and the little tabs on the shoulders and waistband! The gold buttons and green suede just say fall and really balance out the simple dress.

simpllcity-8174The suede is not the easiest fabric to work with, since I had to topstitch down my seam allowance on both sides of every seam. But what I realized is that it really responded to steam, so I was able to shape it around the shoulders. I am debating whether to topstitch the fronts, they still look a little fluffy, but I wonder if it will smooth out with wear? I only just finished the jacket and bagged out the lining last night. Despite the extra work of using the suede, the gorgeous texture and color create such a showstopper! I am so pleased with it!

moto-jacket-with-saiph-tunicI will provide a thorough review of the pattern and Mimi G’s video tutorial and show off all the details of this gorgeous jacket in an upcoming post. It is an interesting sew and I already have plans for another one. Do I need more jackets? No! But I love them, okay?

saiph-tunic-with-motoSo here is my vision of Fall 2016 with Style Maker Fabrics! Beautiful fabrics with texture and rich color. Mixing a simple dress with a military detailed jacket and boots. And, of course, sweating in the sun for these pictures and hoping for temperatures below 80 by October!

colors-that-make-the-season-851x280There are more stops on this parade of fun fabrics with a fall theme. Did you see Erika’s outfit yesterday? And tomorrow Kelli will show us her creation!

Thanks to Style Maker Fabrics for the complimentary fabric! They were lovely to work with and I was so pleased to try out their gorgeous fabrics.

LBD for the Sewing Bee

bias-dress-1Not little black dress, but little bias dress by Vera Venus. She has some interesting free patterns on her site and wow did this one come together so great – I would recommend it, at least the skirt portion. With such a cool vintage feel to the skirt, I decided to switch up the bodice pattern to use the McCall’s 6760, made previously here. It balanced out the figure-hugging skirt, I thought.

bias-dress-2Since the challenge for 2nd round of the 3rd annual Pattern Review Sewing Bee was bias, I did some serious thinking. I assumed everyone would do plaid or stripes, so I came up with the idea to use a border print. I’m obsessed with border prints right now, and the border print could be used on the bias to do some interesting things. It is like a striped fabric, just only along the selvedge edge! I even had a double border print, so I could really flaunt that border. So I cut it out.

bias-dress7Well, it didn’t turn out quite right because I lengthened the skirt (I imagined this dramatic maxi length dress) and forgot to widen the bottom frill! Man! I was bummed. Soon, when I go back and finish that dress, I will have to cut off some of the skirt or scrap the frill, but either way, it won’t be the showstopper that I imagined. So I started over.

bias-dress4I went with stripes, and I am so glad I did. This pairing of fabric and pattern turned out perfect. Not all my projects can say that! It is a rayon challis with a little bit of a texture to it and boy did it drape on the bias! That is why the skirt turned out so form fitting. I am wearing all kinds of shapewear under that thing, in addition to sucking it in.

bias-dress5I was especially sad when I started over because cutting on the bias is such a pain! Ugh. This shifty rayon was really difficult, but at least those stripes were on grain. And since I had traced the full size pattern pieces onto my plastic sheeting, I could see through it and see if my stripes were straight all the way down the piece. That was the key and I may employ that tactic on other tricky to cut fabrics.

Another smart thing I did (at least I think so) is I made my rouleau tubes just big enough to be able to turn with a safety pin. I am no good at using bodkins. I have tried and tried. But I’ve made straps before where the safety pin couldn’t fit through, and I got stuck.  So, even though sewing less than an inch of bias fabric is difficult, at least turning them was not a big deal. And they turned out nice and round and springy. Pro tip – use a .5 zig zag when stitching the bias straps so the thread doesn’t snap when the tube stretches.

bias-dress-fully-linedThe lining is also rayon, but it had a bit more body, so I cut it about half an inch bigger since I knew the diamonds of the bias wouldn’t collapse as much and it wouldn’t stretch at the same rate as the rayon challis. I was right for once and headed off disaster, because that lining is much more snug than the outer and it would’ve rode up my hips if it was any tighter. Phew!

bias-dress-backI didn’t fully line the back because I wanted it to be light and didn’t need the modesty in the back. But on second thought, I wish I had because i don’t like how you can see the facing through the dress.

bias-dresswaistbandAnd I have to mention my stylish and supportive waistband. Basically, when I thought of a whole drapey, bias dress I got very shy. I didn’t want to be wearing a slip around, even a lined slip. So I went with a straight grain, interfaced waistband that held my tummy in and gave support to the rather heavy skirt. Rayon is sometimes heavy, which adds to the beautiful drape but it could have really pulled that bodice out of shape. I have about 4 yards of this gorgeous denim colored rayon and I have not decided what else it will become yet. I do know it wrinkles like nobody’s business, but that will be a consideration. Because the waistband on the dress is interfaced, the wrinkling is not so evident here.

Anyway, the results are in! This dress helped me make it to the next round of the Bee, and the next challenge will be announced  Sunday. Here is my full review with lots of sewing notes. As a little palate cleanser I’m making something for the Style Makers Fabric Blog tour. I got to work with Japanese double gauze for the first time and believe me, it will not be my last! It is the stuff fabric dreams are made of! I’ll be back Sunday with that fun project.


Made it up as I went along Border Print dress

fabricSo, in preparation for my article on Bernina’s We All Sew blog, I dove deep into the world of border prints. That was easy to do since I had been unconsciously collecting them for a while, so when I pulled out all the border print fabrics I had amassed, I had a sizable pile. I think I had 7 or so, in addition to the romper I had started last year. I was spoiled for choice!

border-print-gathered-dress-1But, as is my habit, I waffled a bit on how to use my precious pieces. Ugh, I always do that, and I don’t know why, since I obviously have more fabric than any reasonable person should have, so I should just sew it up already! I have this conversation in my head like every time I decide on a project. I exhaust myself sometimes, you know?

border-print-dress-1This beautiful rayon is special because of the really unique double border than transitions in such an interlocking way. I could not imagine how I could just chop it up! One of my favorite shops is Anthropologie, and they use border prints in so many of their clothes (which is one of the reason I love their designs so much!). I noticed that they will use the border print symmetrically down the center of a garment to really draw your attention to the bodice and create a very custom look. I wanted to try that, so…

border-print-dress-backI just didn’t cut my fabric! Well, I did cut it into an neckline and armhole shape on the top, but there is no seam separating the front and back of the dress. Tricky, huh? I used a shape similar to this dress, but without the yoke. Then I gathered the top and the back and added bias binding. Easy and fun. Except…I had to handstitch the binding together at the center front. People, that took forever! I hate handsewing AND I’m horrible at it and slow as hell. I seriously had to break up that long long seam into 4 different sessions. I’m still not very happy with it!

border-print-dress-with-bias-bindingThe continuous bias binding is made from mustard flannel and was quite a project in itself. I enjoyed that process, actually, and can add that new skill to my repertoire. I have made bias binding before, but this was sewn together into a tube and cut out in a continuous strip. Then I ran it through the Clover bias maker with the iron. I have a bunch left, oh yes! I severely overestimated how much I would need. But nice cotton bias binding is always handy to have around, so I’ll squirrel it away.

border-print-back-2One casualty of my slapdash dressmaking approach was that the gathered back edge ended up being too long and it droops. Oops, it droops! I wish it was straight back there. Also, you can see in these pictures that I quickly ran outside and took the pictures before I tacked down the back straps. Silly me! I came home, looked at the pictures and realized my hasty mistake and quickly sewed them down with a little stitch in the ditch, but there is no way that I am retaking the pictures. SORRY! Imagine the cute dress with the strap ends neatly sewn down, please.

border-print-maxi-dressThis dress is funny since it looks like a totally different dress from the front vs. the back. Gray and yellow vs. black and white. Which dress do I like better?

Main points:

  • Border prints are fun but agonizing to display to their fullest potential.
  • Despite my deep aversion, I had to handsew the bias binding down the center front so it would lay flat and butt up nicely
  • I may make this made-up dress again, since I like the simple shape with the strap detail, but I’ll make the back edge shorter and perhaps the front triangle smaller


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.



Simply a tank dress with McCall’s 6559

M6559 dress top frontThis is the kind of project that I usually dismiss from my project list. It was simple, it was fast, I learned no skills, I paired no fabrics. But I have been drowning in a sea of huge goals lately. My wardrobe plan for the Pattern Review Wardrobe contest was very involved. Of course I love to push myself for contests, but the fact that I only finished 3 items (one turned out to be a wadder) and started one more reveals the unrealistic hopes I had. Continue reading

Armholes for days on Vogue 1379

Vogue 1379 SewnBefore I make up a pattern that I do not want to muslin (which is most things) I look around the interweb to see if anyone else has made it and how it hangs on them. I couldn’t find a single review or finished version of Vogue 1379. But, since this dress is very loose fitting, there will be no detailed notes on my adjustments to this pattern.  It may not be very helpful after all, even if it is the only review! Continue reading