Can you Paint with all the Colours of the Wind?

When I was growing up Pocahontas was my favourite Disney princess. It seems she made a lasting impression on me, because a while ago I bought a few yards of this viscose blend jersey to make a dress.

My pattern was New Look A6122, and I used view A. 

After washing my fabrics, I laid everything out and cut it, doing my best to keep my fabrics on the straight of grain. It’s hard enough to cut on the straight of grain with a more stable knit like I used in my basic t-shirt recently, but this viscose blend was all kinds of shifty! As mentioned before, my sewing machine won’t do a zig-zag stitch right now, which would have been the best way to sew this dress up. I used a twin needle instead since the zig-zagging bobbin thread allows seams sewn this way to have a small amount of stretch. It’s not a perfect solution, but it’s better than a normal straight stitch.

I worked up the bodice, then tried it on for a fitting before attaching the skirt. It’s a good thing I did this, because I ended up taking 6 inches of width out of the top of the neckline, raising the bottom edge of the bodice, and removing the lower bust darts. With that done, I reattached the armsceye and waist pieces, and started work on the skirt. The pattern instructs you to make gathers with the extra fabric in both front and back, but I didn’t want to create any more bulk around my midsection. Instead I put two pleats in the front and back pieces – much more slimming.

I sewed the front pieces and the back pieces together, then sewed up the side seams. Then I attached the straps to the back piece by hand in an effort to keep the garment outer as clean and seamless as possible. I let the dress hang before hemming it. I was afraid the slippery, stretchy fabric might grow in length with time. Once it had hung on my dress form for a day or so I cut the hem, and hemmed it. 

This dress is very fun to wear! It is swooshy and feels so flattering! Every time I wear it I start singing the Pocahontas sound track! I would absolutely consider making another one, however there are some changes I would make: the waist and armscye pieces are interfaced with fusible interfacing. As you can see, the outer layer is pulling away from the interfacing in places, leading to a messy looking front. This is mainly caused by the fabric being so much stretchier than the stretch interfacing. If I did this again I would choose a fabric with much less stretch for the interfaced pieces, maybe a 100% cotton knit, and depending on the strength of that fabric I might skip the interfacing altogether. If I made this again, I would do the majority of the stitching with a zig zag stitch, possibly supplemented by some top-stitching. The twin needle works well enough, but it’s not quite stretchy enough for this fabric. Ah, the fabric. If I made this again, I would probably go for a less stretchy/slinky fabric. It’s so fun to wear, but so hard to sew!

Spur-of-the-Moment Sewing

You know how sometimes you see a fabric and it just grabs you? That’s what happened to me with this.

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It’s a wide-stripe cotton seersucker I found at Hobby Lobby, and there was less than a yard left on the bolt. I’ve never seen a seersucker with such a wide stripe! It hurts my brain when I try to figure out how to weave it.

Like much of the world right now, I’ve been working from home a lot recently. One of the up sides of this is that if I decide to cut out a new shirt in the middle of the day I can do it on my lunch break. That’s totally normal behaviour, right?

I used a Dolman Sleeve shirt I currently own and love as a pattern template. The front and back are the exact same pattern piece except for the neckline. I used the full length and width of the fabric, and only have a few square inches of fabric leftover! For the construction I used a mixture of machine and hand sewing. The seams were done with the machine, and the finishing was done by hand. I do love a tidy felled seam!

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When the construction was done I tweaked the sleeves and neckline, then finished the edges with bias tape. The bias tape was sewn onto the right side of the garment by machine, then felled down on the inside by hand. The shirt hem didn’t need any finishing since it is the fabric selvage.

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Tadah! This was a super quick project! I made it over 3 days, working on it for odd minutes here and an hour there. It was a pleasant mixture of hand and machine sewing. The fabric is delightful – I love the colours and the texture. The only thing I’m not sure about is the boxy silhouette.

P.S. This is yet another make that pairs so nicely with my cream jean shorts. I swear they go with everything, and I wear them all the time! Wearing clothes I’ve made myself is the best!

Finally Finished: The 4-year Red Tunic

In the spring of 2016 a friend gave me some fabric. She had gotten a few remnants at a garage sale and thought I might enjoy it – how sweet of her! This was a few months before my wedding, so most of my time, creative energy, and money was going into wedding planning. I assessed the fabric and decided that if I cut carefully I could make a sleeveless tunic, so I used a tunic I had drafted the previous year as a pattern, and got started.

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The fabric is canvassy, possibly a linen/poly blend, and it has decent drape. I was going for a high-low hem, decorative pleats to add fullness to the bust, and a diagonal front zipper as the main focal point.

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I cut my pieces out, sewed the fronts and back together with French seams, and stopped. At the time I didn’t have a dress form or the zipper, and I was daunted by the prospect of draping the front pleats on myself. The top was also rather blocky-looking – not the best look for my shape. So I stuffed everything into a bag, put the bag deep into my stash, and forgot about it for a while.

Over the years I have pulled this project out several times with intentions to finish it, and at some point I even bought a zipper. But it wasn’t till about a month ago that I finally sat down and got it done. I started by assessing the fit. 4 years later, boxy still wasn’t a good look for me, so I pinched a dart/seam into the back to make the top more fitted. I have a bit of a swayback, so back shaping is very important for me to have a decent fit. With that done, I finalized the neckline and put in the zipper. This was a scary moment, but it actually went quite well. Then it was on to the high-low hem, and then finishing the arm-holes with bias tape. After 4 years, my top was finally finished!

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I love the dramatic look of this top, but I’m not super happy with the fit through the waist. But hey, with all the last-minute fitting and the super uninformed cutting and construction at the beginning of the project, it’s not too shabby.

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Check that Box!

Hey Friends, February is almost over, but I have to show you one more thing I made before March hits us.

Will you just look at it? I am quite pleased with how it came out. Well, mostly….

The pattern is Very Easy Vogue V9151.v9151

According to my measurements (and my common sense) I made a size Medium. I don’t know why, but every time I measure myself for a commercial pattern the size I measure for ends up being quite a bit too big for me, so now I default to 1 size smaller. In this case I think I may have been able to go down another size. The fabric is a cotton/poly shirting I found at Hobby Lobby. I think it really makes the garment come alive.

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Since I was working with a check pattern I took extra care to line up the seams so everything flowed well together. In order to avoid a clunky look I cut the center front and upper back panels on the bias. Since cutting on the bias uses extra fabric I did have to piece the center front panel, but the check pattern does a fantastic job hiding the pieced bit. I have to feel for it to figure out where it is!

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I sewed most of the construction seams on my friend’s sewing machine, but the collar and the sleeves were sewn in by hand. I also finished all the seams and hems by hand, and I must say, I’m quite pleased with the low profile of the finishing work (even though it did take longer than serging or top stitching by machine)!

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The only change I made was to widen the hips a little bit. The pattern rather bizarrely tapered in toward the hips, and since I wanted to be able to actually wear the shirt, I cut the seam line straight down. Even so I wish there was a little more room in the hips or that there was a slit or a curved hem, or even that the shirt was a little shorter. It’s just not quite right. Also, the way the sleeves are set in cause the neck of the shirt to rise in front and fall in back – which is rather annoying, but just as well since the front slit is rather lower than I prefer to wear.

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All in all, it’s pretty good for a first draft, and it’s wearable and pretty. If I make this pattern again I think I’ll go down another size and possibly cut the front all as 1 piece. There’s really no reason to cut it as 3 pieces¬†(other than visual interest). I’m also thinking about adding a little waist/hip/hem shaping, but that’s a discussion for another day. For now I leave you with my hand-finished seams. Enjoy.

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Wild West Vest

I recently started wanting a few nice vests to wear to work both as a fashion layer and a warmth layer. You may remember my black vest and my Ruana that I finished earlier this year. This time I wanted something a little more tailored, so I chose view C of Butterick B5359.

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As shown, the V-neckline is somewhat curved, but I wanted a straighter neckline, more like a men’s vest, so I modified the shape when I cut it out. I had 1 1/2 yards of brown woven 2-way stretch fabric as well as about the same amount of quilting cotton for a lining. The pattern has instructions for the vest to be fully lined, but I decided just to line the front. Originally I planned to sew the entire thing by hand, but after a while this started to suck the life out of me, so I took a friend up on her offer to use her sewing machine and serger. It is amazing how much more quickly you can make garments when using a machine!

I had a hard time with the fit of this vest. I generally find that home sewing patterns run large, even when I am careful to check the pattern measurements. Knowing this, I chose a pattern size smaller than the measurements suggested. Even so, I ended up taking the vest in 4-6 inches total to get a tailored fit. I know using a stretchy fabric (with the stretch going around the body) made a difference in the fit, but I also think part of the problem was with the pattern. Despite the fit issues I am interested in making this pattern again, possibly using View C again, but I’m also interested in the other views to get some different silhouettes.

There are 2 things that I am super proud of with this vest:

  1. Except for the 2-way stretch interfacing (which I didn’t know existed before this project), everything I used for this vest came from stash. I’ve been on a stash-using kick recently, and it is exhilarating to be able to make things from what I have already.
  2. My friend doesn’t have a buttonhole attachment for her machine, so I sewed the buttonholes by hand. I’ve never sewn buttonholes before, and I’m so pleased with how these turned out!

Me Made May: Year 2

I participated in Me Made May again this year. My making has slowed down considerably in the last 6 months, so my goal was the same as last year: wear 1 handmade garment or accessory every day. It’s interesting to see how many garments were the same as last year, but also how many were different.

Garments:

Of course I wore my grey Alabama Chanin dress. This dress has become one of my go-tos: I feel good in it and I always get compliments. I also get a lot of wear out of my orange tunic-dress. It’s super comfortable and easy to wear for a lazy day at home.

I have 4 handmade sleeveless tops now: 2 self-drafted, and 2 Wiksten Tanks.

I don’t wear vests a lot, but when I do, they need huge awesome collars. Some handmade lace for a back cutout doesn’t hurt, either.

It’s debatable whether socks are garments or accessories, but I figure since they enclose a part of your body and have to fit, they should be included as garments. I wore my Slytherin socks and my Watermelon socks throughout the month.

Having handmade undergarments has been a real boon for those days when everything else was dirty or didn’t seem to go well together.

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Accessories:

My office is really cold. As in, ‘wear socks and shoes (not sandals) and a shawl and a sweater and fingerless gloves’ cold. So I wore shawls a fair amount this month. My Granny shawl drapes perfectly and stays on effortlessly, and I also wore my wedding shawl and my most recent pattern release, the Balai Shawl (free pattern here).

Some days I didn’t feel like going all out, so I accessorized with my Kumihimo necklace or a ribbon rose hair clip. Simple, but effective.

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New:

I’ve been working on several projects this month, but most of them aren’t finished yet (oh the life of a crafter). I did manage to finally finish my wool crepe vest, and I love how it turned out! It’s big and comfortable and the fabric is oh so lovely.

Wardrobe Plans

Part of listing my making plans is deciding what pieces I really want to add to my wardrobe. Karen Templer from Fringe Association wrote a few months ago about intentionally planning her wardrobe, and planning her making around the holes she wanted to fill. So I’m taking a page from her book, and thinking about what I have, what I want, and what I need.

I’m relatively new to the whole “hand sew your own clothes” thing, so I am intentionally not tackling pants of any kind. Which means I have a lot of shirts planned, mostly in knit fabrics because I like wearing them. Here I have a long sleeve cream shirt, an aqua shirt with lace, a red shirt (in woven fabric) that is already partway done (and now that I have a dress form I can drape it like a boss), and a fluttery summer shirt.

Knitting is something I’m much more comfortable with. I plan to make the Maia Tee¬†in linen, Song of the Sea, a Hitchhiker with my handspun, and I’ve already started Favorki with alpaca handspun.

Last up, I have 2 full outfits. A sewn jersey top in rose (I’m unsure about sleeve length – thoughts?) worn with a beaded black square skirt (this seems very elegant, but I’m not sure how often I would wear it. I’m much more of a pants type of girl). Also, a long sweater in a white-green ombre worn with jeans and boots. This sweater may not happen for a while, but it’s lovely to dream of.

What are you planning to make?