Sunday, October 30, 2011

Simplicity 2406 - Corduroy dress

In this post, I mentioned my wanting more fall/winter dresses. Here we have the second dress in this "Dress Warm" project. For this one I opted to use a warm fabric and chose a design that would allow wearing a cami underneath  for an extra layer.

Simplicity 2406

The pattern is Simplicity 2406, view C. I previously made view B here. I used a dark green fine-wale corduroy fabric that I've had in my stash for years. It's so soft and more drapey than most corduroy. I've considered using this fabric every winter for the last few years, but haven't felt like I found the ideal pattern for it. I'm making a concerted effort to sew up stash fabrics and not hoard them out of fear of not getting it perfect. So, did I choose the perfect pattern? I don't really think so, but I still like the dress and a dress in my closet is more satisfying than flat fabric on a shelf.

I had just enough fabric to make this dress - only small scraps left, so no matching sash. This is an extremely easy pattern to sew up. I did add length to the sleeves and the hem and closed up the back seam all the way to the neck (we're going for warmth here and the opening isn't necessary to get the dress on and off). Because I thought it might be helpful for fitting, I did keep the back seam, but ended up just leaving it straight. If I made it again and had enough fabric, I would consider putting it on the fold.

I don't have the next dress planned yet, but it will likely be something to wear with leggings. After all the leggings I've made for my girls, I'm finally cluing in that they might be something I'd like for me!

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Simplicity 2556 - Tweedy vest

When I began blogging, I posted my makes right after they were finished and the blog was a chronological record of what came off the sewing machine. That isn't the case anymore. Now I blog when I get around to taking pictures, which can be awhile. In the case of this vest, it's been at least 8 months. It normally doesn't take nearly that long, but I didn't have a shirt to wear under it when I finished it, and then the wrong season came along (summer). Finally I wore it a few days ago and got a picture.

Simplicity 2556 Vest
Excuse the funny shadows. And the funny hair. You'd think after waiting 8 months, I'd get it right...

The problem with blogging long after creating is that it's hard to remember what I did or changed. I do know that I'm happy with the fit of the vest, particularly across the back.

Simplicity 2556 Vest

The construction seems sound, too. I think I used cotton batiste to underline the tweed fabric. It isn't a very high-quality fabric and the loose weave needed a little more support. The inside is completely lined.

Simplicity 2556 Vest
I didn't realize until looking at it now that this is a good picture of my slipstitching along the lining sideseam. That wasn't my intention. :)

The buttonholes are each stitched twice. I often use this technique on jackets or other items that can support it. Stitch the first pass with the buttonhole setting at a low density. Then slice the buttonhole open and stitch over it again with a high density zigzag. It goes a long way toward preventing the little whiskers that can show up in the inside of the buttonhole.

Simplicity 2556 Vest

The pattern is Simplicity 2556, a Project Runway pattern. I always find these pattern envelopes hard to read - both the yardage requirements and the technical drawings. I think there's usually just too many options for me to sort through. In this case, I saw someone else make up this view of the pattern and I wanted my own. I entered this vest in the fair for judging and it won a first prize.

The shirt I'm wearing in the photos above is blogged about here (it also won a first prize at the fair!) and the skirt here. I'm not sure these are the best compliments for the vest. I'll have to play around with it a little. But, it is fun to wear an all me-made outfit from time to time.

Saturday, October 22, 2011

Butterick 5559 - Navy knit dress

This past summer I really increased my summer dress selection. My fall/winter dress choices are pretty minimal, but I think I'd like to change that this year. I associate fall/winter dresses with being cold, so I'm hoping to find dress options that have long sleeves, work well for layering, or can be made in warm fabrics.

I started this add-more-dresses project with a dress to wear to a wedding I attended last weekend. While out snoop shopping a few weeks ago, I tried on a ponte knit sheath dress with tucks radiating from the side seam. It cost $250. Even though everything about the dress was too short (bodice length, skirt length, sleeve length), it was a flattering style and was easy to wear.

It was very similar to Butterick 5559. I picked up the pattern and some navy ponte knit fabric and got to work on my own version.

This was a very interesting pattern to sew. There are separate top and bottom pieces for the front and back - the seam is hidden under the tuck at the waistline. Darts shape the top and bottom pieces - they are hidden under tucks also. This is what the front bodice piece looked like after marking and before sewing:

Butterick 5559 bodice front

The markings are on the wrong side of the fabric. The tucks are made from the right side so I basted along the fold lines so they would be visible. Putting in all the darts and tucks took awhile, but once that was done, construction was easy-peasy.

Butterick 5559

Given my snoop shopping experience, I was concerned that this dress would also be too short. It was hard to even tell how long the piece would be after all the tucks were made. Adding length without distorting the tucks seemed difficult, but in the end I decided to add 3/8" above and below the waistline tuck. I also added 3" in skirt length below the tucks (I didn't need it all, but I don't remember how much I trimmed off) and made the sleeves 3/4 length. I cut generous side seam allowances on the skirt pieces.

Butterick 5559

Despite trimming, grading, clipping, understitching and pressing, the facings did not want to stay turned to the inside. So, they are tacked down. Because of the boat neck and lack of other differences front to back, I have a really hard time telling which side is the front of the dress! I added a small embroidered flower and my initials to the back facing as a tag stand-in.

Embroidery on back facing

Also because of the wide neck, I added lingerie guards. I'm a big fan of these since putting them in this dress. It is good to not be fussing with bra straps.

Lingerie strap guard

I'm happy with the end result. And The Preacher liked it, too. Bonus!

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Oliver + S Music Class Skirt

The only thing that is really noteworthy about this skirt is that it isn't needed until December and I made it in October. My daughter needs a black knee-length skirt to wear as part of her school uniform for concerts and performances. The first concert she is a part of is the Christmas concert. Assuming this December would be just as busy as those in recent years, I tried to be proactive and get this done earlier than a couple nights before the concert. Yay me!

Front view

I've made this skirt before, so I was familiar with the pattern. I want this skirt to be wearable for a couple of years, so I added three inches in length to the size 7. It finishes just at the bottom of her knee cap. The fabric is a basic poly suiting with a little bit of stretch.

Poor planning on my part, but I added all of the length to the middle part of the side panel. It would have been smarter to add 1" above the pocket, 1" in the middle, and 1" to the pleat. That would have kept the proportions better.

Side view

This skirt has nice details, but still is really quick to sew up. I was reminded how much I like Oliver + S patterns. I've got plans to make another Jump Rope dress soon, too.

Sunday, October 9, 2011

Bright Blue Bag

This is the second bag I made for M's shop. To keep it simple, I started with the same pattern as the first one and modified it a bit.

Gathered bag

The changes include using two narrow straps on the sides of the bag instead of one wide one at the ends, making the bottom of the top band straight rather than curved, and cutting the main part of the bag into three gathered strips.

Gathered bag

I stabilized each gathered seam with stay tape so they wouldn't stretch out. The lining is smooth and slightly smaller than the outer part, so stretching shouldn't be a problem. Since the print fabric is a quilting cotton, I backed the lining pieces with fusible fleece to give the bag some heft.

Hardware on gathered bag

The rings are harness rings from the hardware store. They come in a variety of sizes at a good price.

Zipper of gathered bag

And then the zipper. I added tabs to the end of the zipper because this one was a little short, but generally I find this works better than stitching the zipper all the way to the ends when it's recessed like this. It just seems easier to open and close. The interior of the bag is the same as the last one - pockets on each side.

I was happy with this bag, too. The idea came from a bag I saw at a nice shop in town. It was made from a beautiful soft grey leather and it really wanted to be mine. Were it not for the price tag indicating just how beautiful the leather was, I would have brought it home. I do have a piece of grey Ultrasuede in my stash. Maybe I'll make my own version...

Saturday, October 8, 2011

Pink Wool Bag

A couple of weeks ago, M asked me to make a couple more purses for her shop. Two of the others that I made awhile back had sold - yay! The only guidelines M has is that the purses should close securely, preferably with zippers. She finds that bags that stay open or close with only a snap don't sell very well.

Since color, style and fabrication were all up to me, I really wanted to make them from materials I already had. My MIL sent me home from our summer trip to their place with a pile of fabric that she had. One of the pieces was a really nice dark pink wool. The piece was long, narrow and not very big - ideal for a bag.

Wool bag
Please pardon those spots on the camera!

I used the pattern I developed when working on these bags. Since the fabric was plain, I figured some embellishment would be a good idea. These roses are pretty easy to make. If I were looking at this bag in a store I would be concerned that the roses would come apart or come off the bag, so I made sure to stitch them on very securely.

Wool flowers

The strap is made of four layers of wool. I was worried that my machine would balk at my request for it to sew through that, but it did it beautifully with no problems. Go Pfaff! The channel stitching adds some texture and makes the strap feel very sturdy.

Wool bag strap

I modified the lining pattern to accommodate a zipper. This isn't a great picture of the bag's interior, but there are pockets on each side of the lining.

Interior view of wool bag

I felt quite happy with this bag when I was finished with it. Sometimes selling things that I make causes me some anxiety. I feel like the products need to be flawless and certainly better than store-bought to make it worth paying the extra cost. I try not to let that be paralyzing. Anyway, it does feel good to be happy with a product before sending it out into the world. :)