Sedona Sunset Early Fall Capsule

I found this stunning striped silk jersey at Fashion Fabrics Club last month, and it has inspired me to start working on an early fall wardrobe capsule.  We have some friends who live in Sedona, Arizona, and this reminded me so much of the colors there, that I'm calling it my "Sedona Sunset" SWAP.  (SWAP stands for Sewing With A Plan.)  Not everything will be worn together, but it helps me set a general direction of where I want to go.  I love the planning process.

I have 6 yards of it, which should be enough to get at least 2 pieces, maybe three out of it just by itself, so it is definitely my centerpiece.  However, it is a narrow width, as silk jerseys often are.   I know that I for certain want to make a wrap style dress out of it.  Hopefully, I'll have enough left over for a sleeveless top or straight skirt.

I also had two sandwashed silks- a blue and a tomato red.  I've got about 5 yards of the blue, but just 2 of the red. Both will probably be tunic style tops, maybe some track type pants out of the blue if I can squeeze it out of what I've got left.

I got a coral linen/rayon sweater knit and a royal blue linen knit at the same time I bought the silk.  I've got about 3 yards to work with of the coral, and just one yard of the blue, so the coral will probably be a long cardigan and shell, and the blue a sleeveless top.

All of these are top or dress weight, and I needed something that I could pull in for skirts or pants. From my stash, I have 1 yard of a nice printed sateen with the same color palette for a skirt, and then  2 yards of a stretch dark blue denim for some pants.   I have white pants and skirts that I will use as well.

And last, but not least!  I found a Isaac Mizrahi leather purse in coral as the icing on the cake.  I got it at our local thrift store for $20.  Buying it meant I was now committed to the plan!

Next step, preshrinking- even the silks.  I don't like drycleaning, so better to shrink it now, than later.
Then- picking out the patterns, always the hardest part!!!  I'm hoping to get 10 pieces done from these by Labor Day which is 6 weeks away.  I've definitely got my work cut out for me!

Have you started thinking about Fall sewing yet?

Happy Sewing!


African Wax Print Dress

One of my daughter's best friends, Wen, went to Rwanda a couple of years ago, and brought back several beautiful pieces of fabric to give to us.  My daughter said that I could have one of them, so I chose the most subdued piece of the bunch which was this one.

I found the stickers interesting, and in researching African Wax Prints, I found that counterfeit fabrics are a problem, so that must be why it came with these markers. I had 3-1/2 yards of 44" wide fabric to work with.  It did have a very slight waxy coating on it, which washed off when I preshrunk it, but didn't effect the color in any way.  The remaining fabric was kind of a cross between a broadcloth and a canvas- lightweight, but crisp, with a slightly coarse texture.

I hung it on the dress form for a while trying to envision it in another form.  I went to the manufacturer's website and was surprised to see that the fabric actually was made in China.  Here is an excerpt from their About Us page:

"Our textile factory has a history of more than 10 years, and an area of 150,000 square meters. It has a personnel of 1,200 workers and employees, including some senior professional engineers. Our factory specializes in producing 100% cotton real wax, 100% cotton super wax, and 100%cotton kitenge, dyeing cloth, embroidery cloth etc… The majority of which are sold to underdeveloped regions, such as Africa. "
Wow!  Such a big factory- they must be producing a huge amount of fabric.  Very interesting!  Although they didn't have any examples of things that the fabric was made into, I had heard before about a company called Vlisco, which is a Dutch company, and went to their website. Oh boy- if you want to see some beautiful pictures, check out their fashion lookbook.  You can order all of these fabrics, and they are not too expensive, but you must order 6 yards at a time.  Here are some examples:

My quandry was how to make this fabric into something that would fit into my lifestyle.  I decided to make a simple dress that was work appropriate- I work in an elementary school, and although there is not an official dress code, I like to make sure that my shoulders are covered, and dresses are knee length.  I pulled out an out of print pattern Simplicity 4632 which checked all the right boxes.   I cut the shorter length, and tried to put the yellow flowers close to my face.

After making up the body and trying it on, I discovered that the fabric was just a little too coarse to wear without a lining.  I bought a lining bundle a few years ago from FabricMart that included 5 yards of this gold lining which never thought I would ever use- gold is just not in my color palette!  So, I was tickled pink to find something that it would work with!  I still have another 2 yards left, but hey, it just goes to show that if you wait long enough...!

The pattern didn't originally call for a lining, but I just cut another front and back, sewed them together, and then sewed the facing onto the lining. Here is is from the inside:

The entire armscye is encased in a bias binding, even though it has a cap sleeve.

And here it is from the back- there is a centerback seam which is nice for fitting.

Oh, and of course, I added pockets!

I'm really pleased with the end result- I think I'll get a lot of use out of this one.  Thanks, Wen, for bringing back this fabric with you!!!  My daughter who is in Madagascar is also on the lookout for some fabrics to bring back with her, so I'm looking forward to sewing more with this kind of fabric.

What about you- have you tried sewing with African wax print fabrics? 

Happy Sewing,

Workout Outfits with Kwik Sew 4163 and 4181

If I loved working out as much as I love sewing, I would probably be a marathon runner!  But alas, I do not, and even though working out is always on my to do list, it hasn't made it to the top of the list for a while.  I actually do like yoga and running, but I've had a foot issue plaguing me for several months that has dampened my enthusiasm quite a bit.  To try to get my mojo back for exercise, I decided to make myself some new workout clothes.  So, I ordered two Kwik Sew patterns during their last sale- 4163 and 4181. I had three pieces of nylon/lycra knits- one coral, one printed, and one black.  I had ordered 1-1/2 yds of the coral and the print, and just one yard of the black.

Let's start with Kwik Sew 4163.  Although I loved the end results, I did find some problems with the pattern.  First of all- the shorts on the model look like a great length, right?  On me, they were obscenely short- like bathing suit short.  So, those were a wadder.  Fortunately, I had enough fabric to try again.  So, I made the pants- not wanting full length ones, I trimmed 7 inches off of the length, and they hit me right at the knee.  I'm guessing that if I made the full length ones, that they would also not be as long as the ones in the cover photo.  The fit was generous, and I ended up sizing down about two sizes to get that snug ready-to-wear fit.

I had a little left of the black knit, and  made them into a solid pair that were 6" longer than the shorts cutting line.  These hit me at about mid thigh.  So, if you are making the shorts/pants- measure a pair of shorts or pants that you like, and then adjust as needed.  I am tall, so it might be just me, but I would be careful!

Next the top, the fit on the top was perfect, except for one thing- the neckband was too long.  It wouldn't lay flat, and since I had serged it, so there was no ripping it out.  I decided to get rid of the excess by making a little v-neck fold at the center front.  I love the back detail.

Next time I make this, I'll cut the band about an inch shorter.  I do love everything else about it!  Next up was Kwik Sew 4181. 
This one went perfectly.  The little V in the front is just an applique, so it's not complicated at all.  Since I made this after the first pattern with the band length problem, I cut the bands an inch shorter and they were perfect.   I did not use the shelf bra piece, as I plan on wearing a real sports bra. 

The only thing that I would change is that I chose to use contrasting thread for the hem, and I don't like it.  I thought it would tie in the black inset, but it is just a little too messy.  Next time, I'd use a thread the same color.

Again, the back view is really cute, and this time I made sure to center the chevron.  I still have a lot of fabric left of the print and the coral, and will probably make a zippered jacket to wear over these when it's a little chillier out. When you are mixing like this, a little fabric goes a long way!  I think that you can actually save money sewing your own workout wear because it takes so little fabric.

So, now I'm all set- gym membership, cute workout clothes- now no more excuses! Just do it!

Happy Sewing!


Summer Blue and White Wardrobe Sewing

Wow- it's July already!  I haven't posted much this year, but I was sewing or thinking about sewing quite a bit.  If you follow my blog, you know that my daughter had a very serious surgery in May, and most of my Spring sewing was devoted to making her some loungewear for her to wear while she recuperated.  My daughter's big surgery went very well, and she is recovering amazingly fast.  She'll be returning to work in just 10 days (the surgery was in mid-May).  After we knew she was going to be fine, I felt like a huge weight had been lifted, and I immediately went out and cut off all my hair!  I don't know if that's a normal reaction or not, but it just seemed like the thing to do- to just lighten up!  I hadn't had such a drastic cut in many years, but it really feels good.

I did make her a couple of new dresses while I was staying with her during her recuperation, and, unfortunately, the pretty robe that I made for her got lost in the hospital shuffle, never to be seen again.  Luckily, I do have enough fabric to make another one.  But before I do that, I needed to make some things for the FabricMart blog using some beautiful Maggy London fabrics that I got in May.  They still have some of these available if you like them!

I'm  certain that I bought every "The Cut Line" pattern that Butterick came out with a few years ago.  These were all patterns that could be made either as a top, tunic or dress length.  I think most of them have gone out of print, but I truly loved the idea, and decided to go ahead and cut into one of them.-  Butterick 5637.   You can see the "bones" in the line drawing below- it has some really fun details.

I made View C, using a printed stretch poplin with a very large print.
I really struggled with how to lay it out, but I ended up placing the star motif right in the center front bodice, and then trying to align the starburst/floral print down the middle.

This is so, so comfortable!  I made it on the loose side, and skipped the zipper, since it was stretch poplin.  It has pockets, and a really cute gathered band in the front.

I didn't have enough fabric to make it the full length, but I had enough to made the lowest tier in half the original width.  I like this length alot.  I go up and down stairs a lot, and the full maxi length is actually just a little dangerous, as I'm always worried about tripping.  So, the mid calf length works for me.

When I was in Chicago staying with my daughter, I picked up a bad habit- going to thrift stores.  There was a Salvation Army store within a couple of blocks of her apartment, and I would go there occasionally.  I have to warn you- going to thrift stores is addictive.  Ever since I got home, I can't drive by a thrift store without stopping.  I've scored some vintage Vogue patterns, a gorgeous silk sari, and once you get that taste, you've just got to have more.  So the next pattern was one of my thrift store finds- McCalls 3919- this cost me a whole twenty cents!  I mean, really, what can you buy for twenty cents that would give you any more joy?

 It's nothing too exciting on the surface, but it was absolutely what I've been looking for for a long time- a very simple raglan sleeved tunic with a tie front.  You would think- oh, every pattern company must have one of those!  But no, no one does currently!  I swear- I checked everywhere.  Well, maybe not all of the indie patterns or Burda, but the big 4 and Simplicity do not have it.   So, here is my version using Maggy London cotton voile.  It's beautiful fabric!!  I love the colors.

I also made it in a border print that I've had for eons- probably from a mystery bundle.  The village scene with the huts reminds me of my daughter who is living in a twig house in Madagascar.  I like this pattern so much that it is going to stay in my "emergency snack sewing" drawer, where I put things like simple skirt and t-shirt patterns that I can make in less than an hour.  Sometimes a little sewing is all you need!

My last fabric was a polyester chiffon palm tree print, also Maggy London.   I used Kwik Sew 3160 for this one, because it is completely lined, with no zipper.  I've found that when working with chiffon, the simpler, the better, as the fabric tends to fray like crazy.

This one feels a lot more dressy to me, so I haven't "really" worn it yet.  I need a dressier occasion to go to.   I lined it with cotton batiste so that it is more breathable.  I had enough fabric left over for a top, so I dug out another oldie but goodie for sheers- McCalls 6204. 
I made the view with the butterfly like sleeves, and the v-neck.

You can see the design better in this white crinkle chiffon version, where you can see how the side seams and underarm seams are joined together to give it a little more shape than a loose poncho:

So, this will be my 4th of July outfit this year.  I didn't set out to make a wardrobe capsule, but that's how it ended up.  How about you- have you discovered thrift store thrills, or made any drastic hair changes lately?

Happy Sewing!