Sewing Classes and Lessons

Sunday, June 28, 2015

Ivy+Blu Sundress Butterick 6021


Does your fabric ever talk to you?  I ordered this beautiful watercolor floral cotton gauze from FabricMart at the beginning of this month, and it has just been screaming "Make Me!  Make Me!"  ever since it arrived at my house.  I really didn't have time to sew, but yesterday, I just couldn't stand it any longer and gave in to the calls.  Most of my fabrics can sit for months, even years, before they get sewn up, so this was highly unusual.

I also had a pattern that has been more lightly whispering, "make me".  That would be Butterick 6021, an Ivy+Blu design from a couple of years ago.  You know how a book just opens to a certain page every time?  That was happening with this pattern.  It had a hem that was longer at the front than the sides, a lined bodice, and tie belt.

So, I thought- well, let's just get this over with- the pattern is pretty simple, I should be able to sew it up in a couple of hours, and get on with my life. Right?  Wrong.  I fiddled and fiddled with the fitting pretty much all day.

Luckily, the only other pressing engagement that I had was weeding the garden, and the weeds are enjoying the sunshine and are quite content to be left alone.

So, the first challenge was that my fabric wasn't wide enough for the pattern.  It called for 60" wide fabric, and mine was 54".  Usually when the yardage chart says 60"on the fabric width, it is just a code for anything 54" or wider,  but not this one.  It really needed the entire width.   The gauze did have an obvious directional crinkle to it, or else I would have switched the layout to a crosswise grain.  So, my first adjustment to the pattern was to shave off enough of the pattern for it to fit my fabric's width.

Here is the first change:



This left the side seam too short for my tall self.  So, I decided to angle the side seam enough so that it would be at least 23" long.  See the folded edge- that is the side seam?  This change removed some of the fullness of the skirt, but you can see that there is plenty of skirt fullness left in the finished dress.  It does reduce the difference between the highest and lowest point, so the hem is not as dramatic. 



I had checked out PatternReview to see other versions of this dress, and there was only one!  It was a a gorgeous version made by Adrienne of Adrienne's Essentials, and she didn't mention any issues with the bodice sizing, so I forged ahead blindly without making a muslin.  I cut my normal size, but the shoulder straps were way too wide for me, and ended up falling off my shoulders.  I didn't have enough fabric to recut, so I had to fix what I had.  For the front, I made two 1/2" pleats- one on each side of the center front. These are barely visible due to the busy-ness of my print, but you can see them here:


For the back, I decided to make a center back seam to remove about 1-1/4" from the width.   If you look closely, you can see it here.  I still needed to remove quite a bit of length from the straps as well.  Since my shoulders are uneven, I took about 1" from one side, and 1-1/2" from the other side.  It now sits on my shoulders quite nicely.


When I make this again, I will fold the patterns for the center front and back in about 1/2", and also cut two sizes shorter on the straps, like this:



Finally, I narrow hemmed the whole skirt hem, and then tried it on.  I should have reversed these steps: try on, then hem, because part of the skirt was on the bias and it had grown significantly longer in a certain section. It had to be trimmed up and re-hemmed there.  So, if you make this, let it hang for some time, and then take a look at your hem before actually hemming! 


Other changes that I made:

-  I added inseam pockets.  I used a pocket pattern from another pattern, and just placed them 3 inches below the waist on each side seam.


-I left out the elastic at the waist.  I did put it in originally, but it felt a little uncomfortable, and if it gets really hot, I plan on wearing this as more of a loose dress with no tie belt.

-I left out the skirt lining.  My fabric was opaque enough to get away with it.

I'm pretty happy with the end product, and now I can get on with my garden weeding!  If you have this pattern, I strongly recommend making a bodice muslin to figure out any tweaking that you might need for your body shape.

 I'll leave you with June in central Illinois- sunshine, corn, wind and wide-open blue skies.  I don't live on a farm, but this field is directly behind our house, and we really enjoy living so close to it.  I grew up on a farm and love this time of year when we get to see the bounty of our part of the world.


Happy Sewing!

Ann

Saturday, June 27, 2015

Summer Pillow and Table Cloth Refresh

Do you lust after the pretty pillows at places like Crate and Barrel or Pottery Barn, but scoff at the $50 price tag?  Me too!  I'm always on the lookout for interesting fabrics to make them myself.  I picked up this leaf pillow panel print remnant this Spring, thinking that the colors would be lovely in summer.  The piece was about 3-1/2 yards and just under $10, and I decided to take the whole cut.  This print was clearly meant for pillows, as it was divided into panels with square shapes. 



But I thought it looked fine as a whole piece as well, so I decided to turn part of it into a new tablecloth.  For the tablecloth, I used about 2 -1/2 yards of the piece, and just hemmed it.  That left me with two rows of the panels, which was enough for 3 pillow covers. 

 I had a couple of old throw pillows that were getting holes in them, so I just covered them up with the new fabric, not worrying about a zipper.  For my third pillow, I wanted to use a down feather pillow insert, so I thought it best to make the cover removable with an invisible zipper.  These pillow panels measured 18", so I chose a 14" zipper to make sure that I had a big enough opening to insert the pillow form.

If you'd like to try this, you can use any fabric -just cut two squares the size of the pillow form that you want to use, plus 1" to allow for 1/2" seams.  To add an invisible zipper, place the right side of the zipper down onto the right side of the fabric, centering it on one side.  If you can't find a perfect match for the zipper, don't worry.  With an invisible zipper, all you end up seeing is the zipper pull. 


Then sew the other side of the zipper right side down on the right side of the other piece of fabric, so it looks like this:


Open the zipper at least halfway.  Then sew together the remaining open sides.  Why open the zipper before you sew?  Because if you don't, you won't be able to turn the pillow right side out! 


I used pinking shears on the edges because I was a feeling too lazy to change my serger thread color.  You will want to finish the raw edges of the seams in some way.  Notice how I clipped the corners at an angle- this will help you to get a better point on the corners when you turn the cover right side out.


Now, just give the cover a nice pressing, insert your pillow form, and zip it up!


You can change the cover when the season is over, and store it away until next year. 


So, for under $10, I got three new pillows and one new tablecloth to spruce up the house for summer!  I don't always save money when I sew, but I think that if I had purchased these at a Pottery Barn, I would have probably over $200 for the whole set. And this didn't even take that long!  Maybe two hours tops.

The store that I got this at was Hancock fabrics, so if you have one near you, check out their table of home dec flat folds and be sure to take your 50% off a cut of fabric coupon.  They have so many cute remnants right now. 

Happy Sewing!!

Ann




Wednesday, June 24, 2015

A Convertible Skirt from New Look 6379


Have you ever heard of a convertible skirt?  No, it's not a skirt to wear while you are riding in your convertible.  Or maybe it is!  It essentially is a skirt with a wide fold over waistband that doubles as a strapless dress when you don't fold the waistband over.  I have a slight obsession with travel wardrobes, and whenever I hear of anything that could potentially serve two purposes on a vacation, I'm all over it. 


There are several patterns for this type of skirt available, but I liked the handkerchief hem on New Look 6379.  I found this gorgeous abstract art rayon knit at Fabric Mart, and I thought it would be really cool in this design.  The pattern is basically just two pattern pieces- a waistband and a front/back skirt that are the same. You do insert a thin piece of elastic in a casing at the bottom of the waistband, where it joins to the skirt.

Here it is as the strapless dress.  I probably won't be wearing it this way, except as a beach cover-up if we go on vacation.



To be honest, it doesn't feel secure enough to me to wear as a dress.  It just felt like a wardrobe malfunction waiting to happen to me.  Perhaps if you are using a fabric with a higher lycra content, it would be more secure when wearing as a dress.  But the rayon knit just has too much give.  I thought about adding another elastic casing at the top of the waistband, but then it wouldn't sit right as a skirt, so I nixed that idea. 



As a skirt, it really could not be easier!  I did find that I needed to size down a couple of sizes because the rayon knit was very stretchy.  My fabric has a stripe like print, but when it hangs, the stripe gently curves down.  You can kind of see more of the stripe when I'm sitting here:


The tank top is also from a rayon knit.  I knew that I wanted a black tank to go with the skirt, but I just didn't want to make a boring black tank- I could buy one of those anywhere  So, I looked for something that had a little twist.  I found what I wanted in one of my old Burda magazines.  The issue is July 2007, and the pattern number is 130 if you have that issue.  Unfortunately, it's not available for download on the Burda site, because it is really a neat tank top. 


Here are the line drawings from the magazine- you can see that it has really long straps on the front, that you knot, and then gather to attach to the back.  The front neckline, straps, and armhole are finished by cutting a second front that ends just below the bust, and then sewing that as a facing.  Very ingenious!  Because my knit was so stretchy, I ended up cutting the straps about 4" shorter than the pattern.  It takes a little more fabric than your average tank top, but I think it is definitely worth it.




I originally made a loose fitting white tank to go with this skirt, but didn't really care for it. It felt a little too pajama-like.   Do you agree?  Here it is on the dress form:


There are so many colors in this fabric that it will go with just about any top, but I really do like how the black lets the skirt have the spotlight.  My husband's getting pretty good with the camera!  I will end with his "art shot" at the bicycle racks.


I'm ready to go riding in your convertible in my convertible skirt anytime!  Have you made anything that is "convertible"?

Happy Sewing!

Ann



Saturday, June 13, 2015

Chaillis Short Jumpsuit/Romper Butterick 6220


Would you call this a short jumpsuit or a romper?


Jumpsuit sounds so serious: "You must put on your suit to do the business of jumping."  And I can't help but associate jumpsuits with prison attire.  I blame Orange is the New Black for this stereotype.

Romper, on the other hand, sounds very light and carefree.  No cares or worries- just skipping and romping in the sunshine.   Romper also reminds me of Romper Room.   If you are under 40 or from outside of the US, it was a very innocent children's show.   It had a huge bumblebee character named Do Bee that taught manners with advice such as "Do Bee good boys and girls and help your parents."  Here is a fun look at a Do Bee book.

Image from Modernkiddo.com

I watched it, and my husband knew about it, but didn't watch it.  Can you guess which one of us has better manners?

I've digressed.  Back to rompers or short jumpsuits: whatever you call them- I've been seeing quite a few patterns for them lately, and decided to test the waters with this very simple pattern- Butterick 6220.   I really think that the back is pretty with the tie and crossover.  Here it is from the back, and the line drawings from the pattern:






 I see several pros of this pattern over other similar patterns:

     1.  Can be made from a woven fabric.  A lot of  jumpsuit/romper patterns are designed for knits.  I wanted to use a rayon challis for mine, so this was perfect.  It took about 2-1/2 yards.

      2.  Lots of coverage on the top.  This is great if you don't want to show a lot of skin. The short rompers with halter or spaghetti straps are great if you are a twenty something, but not for me.

      3.  Easy to put on- no zipper, just a tie in the back.

      4.  Can be made short or long with pants, or with a skirt.


It's pretty similar to this one from Zara.  With a few tweaks of this pattern, you could duplicate this look.


And here are the cons:

      1.  Tricky to not have your bra show in the back with the crossover.

      2.  Getting the right body length is crucial, since you aren't using a knit that will stretch.

      3.  It's rather plain as is, so you really need to wear a belt with it to break it up.  This makes the already challenging task of going to the bathroom a little more challenging because you need to figure out where to put your belt!

I'm taller than average, so I added 1" to the length of the bodice, and 1" to the length of the pants.   I  extended the back crotch curve 1" at the inseam to give me a little more depth.  I really was just shooting in the dark with these adjustments, but I got lucky and they worked well.


If I make it again, I think that I would add an additional 1"to the bodice length, so that it I could blouse it over the belt a little more.   Or I might add a couple of buttonholes at the center front waist and thread a tie belt through instead of using elastic.

The construction is pretty straight forward- a facing on the front V-neckline, narrow hemming everywhere else.   Here's the inside of the facing:


The only part that I disagreed with was the waist casing.  The instructions have you straight stitch the raw edge of the elastic casing closed.  With a challis, the straight stitch would unravel in no time, so I serged the edge, then stitched again 3/8" from the seamline before I inserted the elastic. That may not sound like a big change, but it does shorten the body length, so you need to compensate for that if you finish the waist that way.


I also needed to hand tack down the overlap in the back a few inches above the waist, so that it would cover my bra strap.  Here's the back flat:


Overall, I'm really happy with this look.  It's super comfy, cool, and different than anything else that I've got in my closet right now.  I'm sure that at least one of my daughters is going to want one of these, so I'll definitely be sewing it again!


Romper Room would always end this way "Romper, bomper, stomper boo. Tell me, tell me, tell me, do. Magic Mirror, tell me today, have all my friends had fun at play?"   And then the hostess would look through a magic mirror and read names of kids watching at home.  Since I had a very common name that was read frequently, I was sure that she could see me, so I was always a good Do Bee!


Is there room for rompers in your sewing plans?  Do you remember Romper Room?

Now, I'm going to go start the new season of Orange is the New Black in my romper.  Oh, how this Do Bee has fallen!

Happy Sewing!

Ann

Tuesday, June 9, 2015

Watercolor Voile Hi-lo Skirt- Butterick 5892


I've not been doing a ton of sewing lately, as it is garden season!  It's been so beautiful outside, that I really just want to soak up as much sunshine as I can.  We took these photos in my rose garden.  I adore roses.  They are fussy and unpredictable, but when they are good, they are really, really good!  Hmmm....they sound a lot like some of my favorite fabrics- I detect a pattern here.

In my last post, I talked about my most versatile skirt pattern.  This skirt is not from that pattern, but it is probably my favorite skirt.  It is from Butterick 5892  I made this last year, and it always brings me happiness whenever I wear it.  I realize that not everyone is fond of ruffles, and I'm generally not either, but for some reason, this one calls to me.


Perhaps it's the hi-lo hemline.  It's a lot easier to walk in than a maxi-skirt where the length is the same all around. I don't have to worry about picking it up when I go up stairs.  The upper skirt is lined, but the ruffle is not, so it is opaque where it needs to be, and sheer where it doesn't matter.

Perhaps it's the combination of elastic and drawstring waist that makes it super flexible to move in it.   Have an extra piece of pie?  Sure, why not- my skirt won't mind!



Or perhaps its the watercolor cotton voile that is so light and airy, that you can't even feel you are wearing it.  This was a "designer" voile that I bought several years ago from Fabric Mart.  The designer's name was on the selvage, and it was a big name, but darn it- I can't remember it now.  If you know, please tell me!


The pattern has other views,but I've only made the ruffled hi-lo hem version.  I did make it again in a slightly heavier fabric, and didn't like the results at all, so choosing a lightweight fabric is really important for such a huge ruffle.  The skirt itself is very simple, but the ruffle pieces are very, very long, and take a long time to run the basting stitches to gather.





Are you a gardener when it's nice outside, and a seamstress when it rains? 

Happy Sewing!

Ann
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