Saturday, November 15, 2014

I Been Busy! V8876, Cake Pavlova, J. Peterman ReFashion



It's a Dashing Eccentric post jam-packed with fresh weirdness!

Or, rather, all new clothes.



I'll start with the star, my newest version of the Beatrice, Marcy Tilton's nationwide best seller Vogue Pattern 8876. For my third version of this gorgeous and useful design, i added sleeves and left off the hem bands to make a species of frock coat in stretch denim. It came together easily (after all that practice it should) and I love wearing it. I purchased the stretch cotton denim from Stone Mountain and Daughter, it's terrifically comfortable and is wearing well. Marcy Tilton has some very similar denims in beautiful prints for sale right now; i've been mulling over the Havilland for a while now. This frock coat is so easy to wear and so fun i may have to pull the trigger - a duster in the vein of Ivey Abitz would be devastatingly chic.


 As it happens, i'd been eyeing the light colorway of this fabric on Marcy Tilton's website for a couple of weeks when i saw the darker colorway for sale at Stone Mountain almost a year ago. I liked the darker version better for winter/fall so i snapped it up. As much as the internet has cut into brick and mortar sales, this is the third or fourth length of fabric i've purchased at Stone Mountain after seeing a similar style online and having time to gauge it's usefulness in my wardrobe. I do my best to apportion my fabric budget between the various stores which i want to stay in business.



I chose a separating zipper in an antique bronze hard plastic for the closure. I added a large hook and eye just under the bust for another closure option. Not much to say that hasn't been said already about this great design (much of it by me), though here you can see a mind-bogglingly sweet endorsement of this piece if you click through. I'm still seeing sparkles!



I made the polka dot top using Cake's Pavlova Wrap Top pattern. This is my first version of this pattern. What an easy, rewarding, useful make! And this draft works wonderfully for a bigger bust. I cut the rayon/lycra ITY fabric out in size 35 with no alterations, stitched it up (by hand, still sans machine), and bob's your uncle. All the pluses of a wrap top - sleek fit, adapts to changing sizes - with no downside of gaping at the bust. You can wrap this top over or under the bust; here i'm wearing it under and still no gaping. There's plenty of  room to wrap over the bust as well, with even less likelihood of gaping.  I cut the  longer sleeve option at just past the elbow, my fave length. Pavlova offers a shorter sleeve length as well.

I was delighted to see a lengthen/shorten line clearly marked on the pattern. This is a major plus, as figuring out where/how to lengthen this design would be tricky. I have two more lengths of fabric who've been looking for their best pattern and now find themselves in the pipeline to become Pavlovas (one is the rest of the digital print i used for these leggings) .  You can wear the Pavlova alone, over a tank or long sleeved tee. Sweet! I am very happy to have a new TNT for winter wear. Thank you Cake!!

Original MaxiDress
Underneath it all i'm wearing a black silk slipdress - oohlala! It started out as a maxi dress from J. Peterman, via my fairy godmother (next door neighbor who volunteers at a charity consignment shop and sends goodies my way). The bottom 3-4" at the back hem were kind of chewed up, so i knew i wanted to hem that away. I also wanted to change the fit through the torso. The original looks okay from the front, but from the side view all that shockingly abrupt ballooning around the bazooms did not create the elegant line i covet. I removed the band, took a couple of small darts under the bust, and gathered in the skirts to the bodice. This created a bit of shaping without too much trouble and allowed me to keep the pockets (yay).

The following picture shows the hand stitching better than this one does
The original dress bodice had wide facings with an acetate lining. I prefer the feel and drape of silk, so i removed the lining and hand stitched the facings through to the right side of the dress using contrasting topstitching thread. Luxurious to wear and a great look.

Hand stitching nicely captured
I originally changed the hem to get the effect of an Ivey Abitz frock, but the overall silhouette wasn't working. I would need more fitting through the torso to balance out all that weight and commotion, and it would be a huge amount of work to change the silhouette if it were even possible. I knew i would like to be able to wear this piece as a slip, so i just hemmed the dress to echo the shape of the V8876/Beatrice dress i made in black and white linen, just an inch or so longer, and loved the result.

Whew! the needles have been flying! I've not got much done the last couple of weeks, as DH and i got down to brass tacks and bought a new car. We've had our Scion XA for ten years now so it was time. Our new car is an automatic transmission and driving it is so much easier on my leg!

The weather has turned cool as well, so i am busy re-making a distressed cashmere cardigan into elbow length fingerless gloves. Over at Acorn Cottage Indigo Tiger is tackling an entire 6PAC designed to keep a girl warm - scrumptious!  Is your wardrobe ready for winter?

Friday, November 7, 2014

Make Your Own Three Tier Skirt



I received some interest from Shelley regarding how to make this skirt. I made it without using a pattern, but it's super easy. So i wrote up some notes and made a video. I hope it's useful enough for any interested parties with some sewing experience under their belt to whip up one of these skirts on their own.






To recap on the general construction steps: I first would cut out the inner skirt/tube and the tiers. Then i would mark the placement of the two top tiers while the inner skirt is still flat. (The bottom tier is placed right along the hem so no marking is needed.) Next sew up the center back seam, and finish the hem and the waistband.

ON EDIT: i realized i haven't addressed the issue of 'how big around do you want the inner skirt to be". In the end it depends on how much ease you want. If you're using an elastic waistband, you need the skirt to go over the widest part of your hips. You will also need ease for when you sit and move - more for a woven fabric and less for stretch. If you're using a stretch with 5% or more lycra you may want your finished circumference to just be the same as the widest part of your hips plus an inch or two.

For woven, non-stretch fabrics you will need more. My hips measure around 37", the finished circumference of this inner skirt is 43" at the hem (the darts at the waist take out a couple of inches). That is 6" ease. If you are a lot smaller around you may want less ease, much bigger or taller and you may want more. My ease of 6" is 16% of my hip measurement of 37" so try starting out with adding 15% of your hip measurement as ease. Baste up a tube of that circumference in your fabric and try it on to see how you like it. Be sure to try sitting down in your mock-up as some of our hips spread out more than you might expect when we sit. END EDIT

 For the tiers: Sew any seams needed to form the tiers into tubes. Finish the upper edges and finish the hems/apply trim (I used a narrow machine hem of 1/2").  Make your gathering stitches along the upper edges (i find that two lines of stitches about 1/4" are easier to work with. I also recommend that you divide your stitches into at least two halves - so you would have gathering stitches run all along the half of the tier going on the front of the skirt and having thread tails at the beginning and end of that sections. Then start another set of gathering stitches with thread tails beginning and end for the back half instead of trying to adjust your gathers all around the entire skirt in one go. Here's a nice video on the basics of gathering fabric.) Lastly, adjust your gathers and sew on your tiers.

You're done.

A few more bits of information. This skirt hits me below the knee and a bit above mid-calf and i'm five foot five and a half inches - this may help you with your own dimensions. I forgot to mention that i have an overlap between the top of the two bottom tiers and the hem of the tier above - about 3/4". I believe i was shooting for a 1" overlap but my calculations got away from me. I think as long as there isn't a gap you will be okay.

Most importantly - please let me know if you have any questions! And have fun sewing, whatever you make.

Sunday, October 12, 2014

Vogue 8932 - Made in Blueberry Fleece


Hi! First, i'm getting over a throat bug and the sinus irritation and dehydration is showing on my squinty, frazzled features. Please ignore my expression, i'm actually quite thrilled with this nice jacket pattern from Vogue and am on the lookout for fabric to make the next version.

I've been fairly productive sewing-wise the last couple of months, making a few warm pieces for the upcoming cooler seasons. Unfortunately for 'wear it now!' me, we've been having nice hot days (85-90F+). Ah well, i will be well prepared when things cool down and i am sure i will enjoy this new sensation.



A couple of members over at the Stitcher's Guild forum hoped i would post some pictures of this jacket when i mentioned how much i liked it, so i thought TDE readers may appreciate taking a look at them as well. I find pictures and reviews of patterns so very helpful in my own sewing that i feel an obligation to do so myself, though i fall short of this ideal.  I pretty much made this pattern up as printed, though i did take in the side seams at the waist and hip. I also sliced in a bit of an extra curve under the bust on the side front pattern seam which abuts the center front pattern piece. I also removed some of the length from the points at the front hem - i just took off about 2" from the 'point' and tapered back up to the side seams so that the hem hits me at a more flattering area.

the flash over-exposed this picture but it shows the piecing and stitching nicely so i include it
Other than that i just knocked it out. The whole garment was sewn by hand with topstitching thread (machine is on the fritz) which accounts for the rippling on the center back pattern piece (i didn't do a great job of controlling the thread tension).  The effect doesn't bother me, in fact it seems to highlight the dramatic piecing so i let it be. This is a lighter weight fleece as well, which i believe also contributed to that rippling, so bear this in mind if you want to make this one up and want to avoid a similar outcome (suggestions: choose a heavier weight, more stable fabric; interface for stability; make up samples to check your thread tension prior to construction).


This fleecey-with-some-style will be useful on it's own when we start getting foggy days, and i'm even happier about the idea of a stylish, easy to mix and match, practical and comfortable jacket pattern to make up for fall and winter.  The collar keeps my neck warm, looks good closed as well as worn open.

I am so wanting to finish up with some witty, edgy statement - but mucous-making-virii have dissolved my brain!!! Instead i'll sign off with a Happy Autumn. Whatever you wear, wear it with conviction!

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Blue Beatrice: Another Vogue 8876 Dress by Marcy Tilton



You may remember my rhapsodic post about my first take on this excellent and deservedly popular Marcy Tilton design.  I'm still wearing and loving my first make of this dress, and have been on the lookout for fabric to make into more 'Beatrice' dresses since i finished it.

In early spring, i spotted this gorgeous denim-blue printed linen at Marcy's store and did not hesitate to snap it up. The dress went together quickly, as second go-rounds generally do and as far as i'm concerned linen is just about the easiest fabric to sew. I finished it for my birthday in May, hooray!








That date also gives you an idea of how far behind i am on my blogging - (abashed face emoticon).

I got compliments right off the bat with this dress - one lady at the local grocery store was especially nice and thought it looked so perfect in our first heat wave of the summer.



Obviously this dress is just the best for hot days - sleeveless or with a little cap to protect your shoulders from the sun, the abundant, bell-shaped skirts of the dress catch every breeze and baffle it around a bit before letting it go on it's way, squeezing out every bit of cooling action possible. Who doesn't love practicality along with their edgy femininity!



It's a great piece for fall and winter around here too. Plenty of room for layering tees and leggings underneath, and any waist length or cropped jacket, shrug or sweater works wonderfully. The pattern even has sleeves!  Here in the SF Bay Area this will be a year-round dress.

In case you haven't noticed, i've been adding blue to my well-loved neutrals. It started a couple of years ago when i realized how much i liked denim against black, ivory, and lighter khakis and stones. It's been a smooth process, which really shouldn't be surprising considering how the whole point of neutrals is that they go with everything!



I combined two different buttons on this dress. Tony bought the flat, blue-black ones at Stone Mountain and Daughter a couple of years ago for a shirt fabric he decided not to purchase, and i liberated the grey shell ones from a hand me down Eileen Fisher blouse. I used them first fora  little black jersey blouse in an OOP Butterick design a couple of years ago, but when that blouse died i cut them off and saved them again.  They work beautifully with this fabric.



I love the look of lots of smaller buttons close together, it's one of my favorite trademark closures for blouses and dresses. Using two types of buttons gives a bit of movement to the front of the dress which i like, especially combined with the swirls and motion of the print. I've said it before and i'll say it again - never let a nice button leave your stash!



I usually anchor neck drawstrings with a stitch at center back so they don't fall out or move around during washing or wearing. In this case i thought i'd put a button there in order to disguise the stitching - i picked this one as it's a sleeveless dress.



I hope you all are enjoying your clothing-related activities as much as i am! It's really nice for me, having started this whole 'wardrobe improvement' project back in 2009, all those days later i actually have a closet with a decent amount of new to newish clothing that i enjoy, speaks to my style, and is completely physically comfortable. I even have enough stock to avoid emergency laundry and panic dressing, which happened fairly frequently through most of my life. Trying to avoid these type of events was one of my main motivations in my wardrobe project.

On Father's Day i had an incident which showed me how far i'd come. I'd picked out a nice look for the day (BBQ in the backyard, yum!). It had enough dressy elements so i'd feel stylistically comfortable, good shoes for the look as well as for being outdoors and up and down stairs, just a little skirt and top and coordinating chapeau. At literally three minutes until we would be out the door, as i got ready to wash my hands the liquid soap dispenser went rogue and squirted a line of goo right down the front of my top.

In past years, my wardrobe was so disorganized and skimpy that this would have required a total rethink of my outfit. Panic dressing, as i said.  But thanks to all my clothing obsessed plotting and scheming i simply walked upstairs, chose another top, set the soiled one to soak, and left to enjoy the day in another perfect look.

If you've started your wardrobe journey, but you know you've still got a ways to go and you're getting discouraged, take heart! You can do it! Take a break if you need to, but be sure to get back up and put that nose back to the grindstone because the effort is worth it and you will get where you want to be. And it will be even more fun than you thought it would be!

Have any of you had any 'closet breakthroughs' recently? Let us know if you have!

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Stormy Riding Peplum Dress



I bought this fantastic rayon from Marcy Tilton over a year and a half ago. I finally found the right pattern to make it up in about a month ago and finished it on Monday.

When i participated in the You Look Fab forum frequently a couple of years ago, Angie identified a minimalist aspect to my style which was not all that apparent at the time. But as the years have rolled on, i've found her observation to be more and more accurate.



Finding the right garment for this fabric is a case in point. This fabric would be a natural as part of a collage in one of the Tilton sisters' tunic, dress or tee patterns. But the color, line, shifting values, paisleys and flowers come right up against the edge of 'way too much' on my personal style meter, and i craved simple lines to let the fabric shine.



I chose April Rhodes' Party Dress from her Riding Peplum and Party Dress pattern. This pattern is a treat to make and to wear. It's as easy as a tank dress, but the full hi-low peplum and shaped waist seam add a bit of drama while also gliding over the stomach and hips.



It's also just as wearable as a tank dress for day to day, and easy to pair with leggings, jackets, shrugs, jeans. It looks so pretty with a denim jean jacket!




I wore it yesterday to pick up Mr. E from the transit station, and i felt so elegant and cool in the muggy monsoonal moisture. I have a length of very light banana linen which i'll make up in the shorter version, i want to try a bit of fabric painting on it and/or add some dimensional treatments to the hem and facings (applied slight ruffle, stacked bias strips, ruching, ?). As always, we'll see how i like the various sample i make up.

picture courtesy of April Rhodes - the Riding Peplum

I've been drooling over this version of the Riding Peplum since i saw it! It's got me in the mood to try out some graded dots or other graded graphic treatment. Plus, may i simply say ohmygoodness who can resist a garment called a "Riding Peplum"?!?!?!?!?  Not me!





Here's a couple of close ups of the fabric, it's so lovely and drapes like a dream.  If i haven't said so before, if you're at all interested in sewing be sure to check out Marcy Tilton's fabric shop. Her photos and descriptions tantalize, and everything i've received from her has been of the utmost quality -  even better in person. Marcy has excellent taste and all she sells is up to her standards. If price is a concern, as it is for me, keep an eye on the Buy of the Week, Sale, and End Cut sections for very good prices. Marcy also sells scarves and bags - just sayin'.

Okay, back to the ironing board and sewing machine! Happy Day!

Saturday, July 12, 2014

Lavender Moto Kwik Sew 3764



One of the reasons for my lack of blogging is increased sewing.



Due to my years of thinking, pondering, and experimenting (much of it documented on this very webpage) it's been very successful and enjoyable. Nothing is worse than sewing an ugly garment which you hate to wear and for which you have no use. Conversely, nothing beats making a garment of which you love the look and style and details, which fits and is comfortable and massively useful in your current life.



Again, i have to point to other sewing bloggers as a wonderful resource. I constantly complain of my underabundance of casual jackets.

About six months ago i decided to wrassle this wardrobe hole to the ground. Through much research on available patterns, their review by various bloggers, and experimental outfit creation, i decided to purchase this pattern - Kwik Sew 3764.



I stuck to my guns and waited two months until i could get my hands on a paper pattern (i didn't want to download as this had a good possibility of becoming a TNT pattern, i didn't want to pay the postage, and i wanted to give my money to a local sewing shop).

This pattern is very easy to put together, as well as easy to alter. The directions are straightforward and easy to follow. Plans are in motion for version the second.





In the meantime, i've already worn it a couple dozen times. And the little cami top i'm wearing with it has definitively bit the dust. The fabric has become alarmingly thin of late, in the last wash (in the lingerie bag on delicate) it developed a hole.

Fortuitous timing! I just now finished another little linen sleeveless top, a near-dupe of this one.



So it looks like i'll avoid running nude in the heat for the next little while!


Sunday, July 6, 2014

Eight Gore Skirt with Jacket, Hat and Boots



Another signature look.



I made up this skirt after Shams of Communing with Fabric pointed out the pattern on one of her Vogue pattern release round ups. I didn't care for the look of the jacket at all, so i ignored the skirt. It's easy to make and fit, and fits nicely into my wardrobe.



I saw Shams at a recent sewing blogger event at Britex in San Francisco. This notorious hermit had a fantastic time!



I even heard another attendee or two refer to how odd it is to be in a group of like minded people when we're all drawn together by such a solitary activity.

yes, it's linen - why do you ask?


I sure hope Britex continues with these events! I had a blast, and my eyes were opened to some products they have of which i am in dire need. I had no idea prior to this occasion, frankly i never had much luck shopping at Britex in the past. But now i am planning a trip before the next month or so.  Hopefully this testimony will encourage the powers that be at Britex to forge ahead!

Happy Day!!  steph