Two years ago in the summer of 2019 I started a dress. The fabric was a linen/rayon blend in Burgundy from JoAnn’s. I hacked Very Easy Vogue V8926 to be a dress instead of a top by adding length and skirt gores (I had made a vest version of this pattern about a year earlier, and it is one of my favourite things to wear). This was before I had a sewing machine, so I sewed the main seams with a mix of running stitch, running back-stitch, and full back-stitch. By the time the seams were done, I couldn’t stand to look at the dress anymore. I put it away for a long time.
Since starting the dress I have gotten a sewing machine. But I wanted the outside of the dress to have no visible stitching, and the seams were already done, so a sewing machine was of little use to me in doing the finishing work. I felled the seams down by hand over the course of the last 2 years. I also worked on fitting the dress to myself. The back pieces are cut straight, and I have a swayback, so I ended up narrowing the back pieces as well as taking a dart along the waistline in back to minimize wrinkling. I had originally cut three gores: one for each side and one for the back. I ended up removing the back gore because it hung weirdly. The front collar is interfaced with fusible woven cotton interfacing. I extended the interfacing to the hem.
Once the fitting was done, it was time to finish the hem and sleeve cuffs. I sewed a coordinating ribbon to the hem, and then turned it up. While working on the sleeve cuffs I had another setback. My sleeve got too close to a candle I had burning and was scorched!!
I refused to let this defeat me when I was so close to finishing the dress. I cut out another sleeve and sewed it up, but realized quickly that I had sewn it backwards. Out came the seam ripper, and I sewed it again. I sewed the sleeve seams by machine, felled the seam allowances down, and finally sewed the second sleeve cuff. After two years in progress my dress was done.
Overall, I am very happy with this dress. It will be a great addition to my wardrobe throughout the summer months, and is very comfortable to wear. There is something about wrap bodices and big collars that I find irresistible. If I made a dress like this again I would make it as a bodice with circle skirt, as that would be a lot easier to sew and fit. In the photos above you can see a white linen underdress I made last year that I am wearing as a slip or petticoat. That little bit of white peeking out when I move makes me so happy!
I’ve been sewing a lot this year. This is in large part because I now have a sewing machine, which allows me to complete projects more quickly. As I looked at my wardrobe recently I realized I was missing some basics, and was quite unhappy with my t-shirt collection. I’ve found myself avoiding wearing the t-shirts I have because I just don’t like them. So I pulled out my trusty Alabama Chanin t-shirt pattern, bought some printed cotton knit from Hobby Lobby, and got to work.
I’ve used this pattern before, but last time I used a rib knit, which is much more stretchy than the Stockinette fabric I was using this time. I did not realize this until I had already cut out the whole shirt. It turned out to be too small and too short. I was lucky that I had just enough fabric to cut out another shirt in a larger size. I made sure I was using a Jersey needle in my sewing machine, but it started making a funny noise, so I sewed almost the whole shirt by hand with a running backstitch. I figured out later it was not a problem with the machine. The needle was slightly bowed, which caused it to rub up against part of the machine.
The last piece of the puzzle was hems and the neckband. I chose a Herringbone stitch that I worked around the shirt hem, the sleeve hems, and the neckband. I debated doing a second round of herringbone in either white or a soft green, but ended up liking the single Herringbone better. The shirt was now finished.
One of these days I’d love to add more details, like additional embroidery, appliqué or reverse appliqué, or even beading! These are the techniques Alabama Chanin is best known for, and I’ve never given it a proper try.
**You’ll notice I’m wearing my new shirt with my me-made shorts, making this an entirely me-made outfit! I love wearing clothes I’ve made for myself, and these shorts are super comfortable!
This year has had a bit of a theme for me: experimentation. I’ve been experimenting with spinning methods, with sourdough baking, and with sewing everything in sight. One of my experiments was with Sashiko: Sashiko is a Japanese method of quilting/surface embroidery that uses (mostly) running stitches to create interesting designs. Traditionally Sashiko is used decoratively as embroidery as well as to mend or reinforce fabrics in a beautiful way.
I had a bit of an ivory linen-blend fabric left over from a previous project, so I cut it into 2 squares, drew a grid, and started sewing. I love the Persimmon Flower stitch pattern, and I used this blog post from Sake Puppets as a tutorial.
The first pass of stitching didn’t look like much, but then I turned the piece 90 degrees and started the second part of the pattern, and that’s when the magic happened! It was thrilling to see these beautiful persimmon flower shapes appear stitch by stitch.
I found this project to be very meditative, and the finished project is quite beautiful. The front and back look different, and both are quite lovely.
Once I had finished the decorative stitching, I folded the edges of the squares to the inside and whip-stitched the edges closed.
I have wanted to go to a Renaissance festival since I first heard about them as a teenager. Alas, growing up in Arizona I didn’t come across many. However, now that I’ve moved to the SouthEast, I have more options (also being an adult with a car and spending money helps). A few weeks ago my Sister-in-Law invited me to go to the Renaissance Festival with her. I had already been playing with the idea of making a Medieval dress for Halloween, so a few days after we finalized our plans I finally caved in and bought fabric.
The fabric I used was a deep red Polyester knit velvet – not what they used in the time, but comfortable and it looked good. I used the Alabama Chanin Long-sleeved T-shirt as a base pattern for the bodice and angled my skirt pieces out to the edge of my fabric. I used the remaining triangular pieces as gores to widen my skirt. Pinning took ages, and then I used a simple running stitch to sew all my seams. In a perfect world I would have also felled the seams, but I was sewing the dress completely by hand and running out of time. Miraculously I found a perfectly matching trim for the neck and sleeves. Even though the trim is woven and the dress is knit, the edges lay pretty well. The hem took me ages. I folded it under about 4 inches and just basted it down to the inside. Maybe someday I’ll go back and finish the hem properly, but the important thing is that the dress was done on time and I wasn’t tripping over it all day (although I did end up ticking the train into my belt so other people wouldn’t be tripping on me all day). The final piece was braiding a wire circlet and borrowing a leather belt to complete the look. My SiL and I had a fabulous time and I felt so pretty (and comfortable!) in my costume!
This has been a week of small starts and no finishes. Work on the blanket continues. I swatched for socks and a tee, but have to wash the swatches before I can do more. Here is the red blouse I have been working on – languishing in want of a zipper.
What do you think? I’m pretty happy with how she is shaping up.
I recently bought the Wiksten Tank pattern and this fabric to make it in. Yummy!
My Sister in Law recently had a birthday. She loves books even more than I do (and I love books a lot), so I made her this necklace. I hope she loves it. I’ve been saving this book charm for a long time.
I have a bad case of startitis. But I’m trying to be good and not cast on ALL the things. Just some of them. My husband and I watched a documentary on minilamism recently, and it made me think about all the things I have that I don’t use. So I pulled this skirt out of my closet to rework as a tunic. I love the skirt, but I rarely wear it, and a tunic is much more realistic for my lifestyle. (Pattern adapted from Alabama Studio Sewing + Design)
I needed some thread and binding to start/finish this project, so I went to my local fabric and craft store and fell down the rabbit hole. I have plans to make a project bag from these.
Making doesn’t just have to be crafting. My husband and I made the most delicious chocolate mousse (recipe courtesy of the Joy of Cooking, of course).
If you follow me on Instagram (@dramaticlyric) you will have seen that I’ve been doing some sewing recently. It all started a few weeks ago when I was wandering the aisles of Barnes and Noble and a sewing book caught my eye. Now this was not just any sewing book, this was Alabama Studio Sewing + Design by Natalie Chanin. Most sewing books are about sewing woven fabrics with a machine. This book is about handsewing knitted jersey. My sewing machine is on the blink, and I actually prefer handsewing anyway, so the book caught my interest (also, I had read about Alabama Chanin on Mason Dixon Knitting). I read through it a few times, then pulled out some fabric and thread. Here’s what I’ve come up with:
A very basic but fitted dress out of grey…stuff (the fabric was given to me, so I’ve no idea what the fiber content is). I had just enough to make the dress – I even had to piece it in a few places. This dress is great on its own or as a layering piece, meaning I can wear it year-round. Perfect!
This next project is something I started in high school, but had not yet finished. A sleeveless vest with tatted lace in the back. All I needed to do was finish the arm holes.
My friend has a horse, so here are some gratuitous horse pictures (also showing my recently finished Perry cardigan).
I am a lizard. Not literally, obviously, but I grew up in a very warm climate. So when it gets cold out I get very very cold. Last winter I decided I wanted the warmest, fuzziest bathrobe ever, so I started shopping around. They were all so expensive! So, frugal woman that I am, I decided to make one. How hard could it be? Knitting would take too long, so I decided to sew it. Out I went to my nearest fabric store and bought the fuzziest pretty fabric I could find. I didn’t have a pattern. But I am a smart, independent woman who doesn’t need no pattern! I measured myself. And then did some math. Measured again. Measured fabric. Did more math. Confused myself. Then repeated the whole process until I was satisfied that I was probably right.
Now came the big step: cutting! This went really well…until my cats decided that my scissors needed to be attacked! (Please, don’t worry about the kitties. They were not harmed. They were just annoying.) With my pieces cut out, I threaded my sewing machine and did most of the sewing. At which point I stopped and shoved it all in a bag to be completed later. Maybe it got warm then?
The other morning I was cold – which makes sense, since it’s fall. I remembered my partially finished bathrobe and decided the time had come to finish it. I pulled it out of the sewing box, cut out some additional pieces, and set out to finish the beast by hand (my sewing machine makes a great paper weight, but isn’t good at much else right now). So let me tell you, Chenille fabric is a lot nicer to work with than chenille yarn. The edges don’t curl or fray, so you have the option to not finish them. It makes for a pretty straightforward sewing project. Which was great, until I got to the cream fur fabric I bought for the trim. Remind me to never sew with furry fabric again. Especially by hand.
In the end I came up with a pretty great bathrobe. It’s very fitted, almost like a dressing gown, which I absolutely love (In fact, I’m going to call it a dressing gown. It sounds so much more classy). But the armholes are a little tight. And it doesn’t close with quite as much overlap as I had envisioned. I still have a little more finishing work to do, but all in all I am happy with my project, and I look forward to many years of warmth and comfort.
A wedding garter in garter stitch. I love the irony. I love the simplicity. I wonder if garter stitch got its name from garters? Also, my “something blue” (it is a little brighter in real life).
And a wee wedding wristlet, just big enough to hold my phone and listick. I am very proud of this: I made it 2 layers thick so there are no edges showing on the inside, and my topstitiching is all on the outer layer (well, except for a few rogue stitches). So my inner layer is remarkably clean and makes my little crafty heart beat with joy and pride.