Month: August 2013

Seersucker Sundress

I made another sundress out of seersucker, this time in green gingham.  Cotton seersucker has earned a special place in my heart this summer–it really is quite comfortable in the Texas heat.  Don’t be surprised if you eventually see a dress in every color of seersucker that I can source.

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I made it back around to Pattern Runway’s Gathered Sundress, and this time I made some fitting changes to the pattern and even made a muslin!  I basically kept the medium size shoulder straps but graded the rest of the bodice up to the large size.  My muslin had some gaping at the armholes, so I ended up reducing the curve in the side bodices (front and back) to eliminate the extra fabric.  I redrew my pattern pieces for the sides of the bodice and tested the fit on the lining.  The fit was great!  This is the best fitting dress I have made yet!!

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It is so much more comfortable to wear a dress that fits correctly through the bust and shoulders, not to mention the waist.  I don’t have to suck my tummy in for the dress to hang straight ;)

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I decided to change up the skirt and pockets this time around.  I cut a half circle skirt, a straight waist band, and drafted patch pockets.  I’ve been crushing on patch pockets; I see them a lot on skirt and dress patterns from the 40’s, and I wanted some for my own.  I found Tasha’s post on pockets quite helpful, but I may go back at some point and topstitch the pockets down.  Who am I kidding?!  I doubt I’ll actually ever fix these pockets, but I do think my hand stitching isn’t super strong.  On future projects I would consider topstitching patch pockets instead of sewing them on by hand.  When I put my hand in the pockets, the littlest bit of weight or pressure reveals a little space between the skirt and the pocket.  So maybe I just need to pull my stitches tighter?

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I’m quite happy with the overall look of the pockets though, and they are functional.  I intended there to be a larger pleat down the middle of the pocket, but it looks more like a small tuck at the top.  A little ironing might help, but part of the fun of seersucker is the bubbly texture that defies ironing.  I added a strip of green bias tape to the pocket to help make it stand out a little bit.  The green of this dress is so subtle, I was desperate to add a little more color in.

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I hemmed the skirt using my machine’s blind hem stitch.  Since discovering the gauge that attaches to the presser foot to help perfectly align the folded fabric, I have been quite satisfied with the results of the machine stitch.  I’m not big on hemming wide skirts by hand, so as long as the machine can do it consistently, I’ll skip the hours of hand stitching.

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I’m thrilled with the results a little fitting and muslin testing can produce.  But now that I have a dress that fits well, I find myself shunning the older dresses in my closet that weren’t quite right.  Does anyone else have that problem??  I think it’s just part of learning…  And I seem to like learning the hard way since I generally pass on muslins ;)

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Second Life Button Up

I’ve owned very few button up shirts that fit correctly, and they seem pretty elusive to shop for.  But even the few ill-fitting RTW button up shirts I’ve owned over the years have had a hold on me.  There’s something about the collar and buttons that I love.  Comfortable, yet a little more professional looking than a t-shirt.

I’ve wanted to make my own for some time now, but my journey didn’t start with much success.  I tried the Violet shirt pattern last October, but it was too boxy, and despite all the extra room, I still couldn’t move my arms comfortably.  So I tried it again last week, going down one size and doing a full bust adjustment.  From the bust down I had plenty of room, but the shoulders and arms were much too tight, and I didn’t quite know what to do next…  A bigger size wasn’t gonna solve any problems.

I finally decided to shelve the Violet pattern and go with a TNT pattern that was already a comfortable fit.  Why go through multiple muslins and frustrations?  So, my TNT pattern is my Sew for Victory dress pattern: Du Barry 5947.  I got rid of the vestee and just lengthened the bodice pattern.  Adapting this pattern to a shirt pattern was a cinch!

I made up a muslin and used a sleeve placket pattern piece to make a wider and longer pattern for a shirt front button placket.  It worked!

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The button placket is hard to see with this floral print, but it’s there, minus any buttons.

It provides enough of an opening to easily get the shirt on and off, and with one button, it would be held closed, without any gaping or pulling.

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I did pinch out a little bit of fabric at the neckline so that the collar would lay flatter, and I added a little more length to the bottom, but otherwise this pattern was ready to roll.

I had a worn out shirt of my husbands that I wanted to refashion into a shirt for me; the sleeves were a wreck, but the rest of the shirt seemed fine.

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I traced the shirt pattern onto my hubby’s shirt, using the buttons as my center front.  I cut new sleeves from the old sleeves (I had lots of fabric to work with–my hubby is the big and tall type), and I cut the collar pieces out of the back yoke.

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It was pretty smooth sailing from here, and I’m thrilled with the results!  It doesn’t hurt to have the button holes and buttons already finished.

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Jay and Lucy love to hang out on the balcony, so they were all up in my business while I was taking photos.
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I did not adjust the pocket placement at all, so the outer corner is practically in my armpit, but it doesn’t bother me. I don’t find chest pockets to be all that practical for ladies, but I don’t mind a decorative pocket.
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Although the fit is loose, I don’t feel lost in this shirt.  I love the gathered shoulder details, and it is comfortable to move my arms in–win!!

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I can’t wait to make more shirts with this pattern.

Do you like button ups?  Have you found the perfect shirt pattern?

Swimsuit in Navy

I’ve joined the ranks of the bombshell wearing ladies of summer!  Here she is, my first me-made swimsuit in striped navy blue.
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This was not my first foray in sewing lycra.  I attempted to sew some high waisted swim bottoms before my trip to Europe in May, but I was short on time and the first two muslins needed more work.  I abandoned my sewing and picked up a swimsuit at Marshalls instead.  I had work to do, friends to visit and needed to pack–I couldn’t stress over swimwear.

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Well, I was pleasantly surprised when I returned home and had a chance to read some blogs.  The bombshell was popping up everywhere, and I was stoked to find out Heather Lou did us all a favor and published her lovely swimsuit pattern!!

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It was tough deciding which version to make first.  While I went with version B, I still think about version A and what might have been.  But ultimately, I really like the plunging neckline of B.  But here’s where I ran into a little trouble:  I think the waistline might be a smidge to high and/or loose for me because it was riding up and causing a little bit of gaping around my girls.

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I didn’t want to unpick the elastic and layers of zigzag stitching, but that’s what I did.  I completely took apart the front waistline and reassembled it, stretching the elastic tighter the second time around.  It really helped, and the top is laying a little more flat and secure now.

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Looking back on the pattern and measurements, I realize I probably should have graded to a smaller size for the upper waist–I’m definitely pear shaped.  And if I shortened the bodice a half inch or so, the top of the waistline would sit a little lower.  The bodice length doesn’t seem too far off though, until I tie the halter straps.  The straps need to be quite snug in order to prevent gaping, and I think that is partly why the waistline is pulling upward.  SO, I think I would start by narrowing the waistline on any future versions.

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The only other area that did not fit satisfactorily was the back bottom.  The outer fabric is kinda just hanging loose back there.  The lining fits snuggly, but the outer fabric is cut wider than the lining, and the gathers are droopey.  One reason I can offer for this is that the side seam is pulled toward the back where the front lining ends.  I used a thicker navy lycra to line the back piece, and I think it’s stronger than the skirt panel where there isn’t lining in the front, resulting in the seam shifting towards the rear.  It’s disappointing since the gathers over the bum are such a cute design!  It wasn’t until after I finished the leg openings that I realized how much that hanging fabric bothered me.  And I really didn’t want to rip all that elastic out and start again.  So, I’ll just live with a little sagging in the bottom.    Next time I think I’ll trim the outer fabric a little closer to the width of the lining–I don’t see the function in having the outer fabric significantly wider.  It would be easy enough to add a lining piece to the bottom of the front skirt to help stretch the side seams evenly too.  Working with lycra is like tug-of-war!  I’m just a tad imbalanced, but I am stoked on my new swimsuit and plan to make more.

I’ve got a version C in mind.  I hope I can get to it before summer ends.  I’ve been distracted this week with sewing a blouse, and I’ve got two sun dresses planned out, amongst other things.

What are you working on as we approach the last leg of summer?