Thursday, May 25, 2017

Casual Summer Dress

Someone who loves knits as much as I do should have a TNT dress pattern by now, right? On a warm summer day, nothing beats tossing on a sleeveless dress, but I'm still trying to find my perfect pattern for such a thing. I think with a few tweaks, this one could be it.


This is McCall's 6744, an OOP pattern that I've had for a few years. I previously made a crossover maxi dress version, which sadly ended up in the garbage after the thin fabric developed holes. But I hadn't yet tried the sleeveless version, and decided on the racerback view to keep it casual.


The pattern was already cut in all views (yay!) in XS (boo!). I'm not an XS anymore...so on the side seams I used a 3/8" seam allowance instead of 5/8" which worked out fine. It is a bit low-cut (the light pink you see along the neckline is my bra) but that just means I have easier nursing access. All the edges are finished with a 5/8" single-turned hem. Not the best finish, but it is the fastest, and my coverstitch made quick work of it.


I needed a quick project, since I decided the night before H's birthday that I wanted a new dress! Now I know a sewing mama would normally be making a new dress for her KID on the kid's birthday, but I had already bought her something new ::shrugs:: We went to the zoo for her special day, and this dress worked out perfectly for our weather and activity. I was able to cut it out and sew the whole thing in maybe 90 minutes of time (fabric was already washed, pattern was already cut as I mentioned). Can't beat that!


And oh yes, let's talk about this fabric. It's a rayon/spandex knit from Raspberry Creek Fabrics. Even though it has a white base it's not sheer. Pink and blue are my two favorite colors, and I love abstract, graphic prints. Basically, it's a win in every category. And I have enough left to squeak out a top, I think.


To make the dress a bit more fun (okay, I was also just being lazy) I reverse coverstitched the openings. There was maroon thread in the needles, which pulled through a bit to the right side. It works with the casual feeling but keeps this dress unique.


As far as a TNT pattern goes, this might work for me if I lengthen the bodice so it's more of a drop-waist. Ten months out from my last baby, I'm facing that dreaded mama pooch and the possibility that it might be here to stay. It makes me self-conscious and uncomfortable to have an elastic casing running right over that part of my body. A drop-waist would give a bit of blousing there and put the waist on my high hip instead. Stay tuned for that particular hack! And by stay tuned, I mean, wait three or four years haha!

I admit, I'm already looking forward to the end of Me Made May, so I can wear this again!

Save 15% on all versions of A Sewist's Notebook! Use code LULU15 at checkout. Ends today!


Thursday, May 18, 2017

Color-blocked Santa Fe

No need to reinvent the wheel today, but I've got a fun new top to share! Despite my reservations about the sleeveless Santa Fe tops I've made, I've been wearing the heck out of my version with sleeves. Once I sewed the last stitch of my Kelly Anorak, I knew I desperately needed a palette cleanser, so another Santa Fe landed on my sewing table almost immediately.


Shockingly, I have no basic white tees in my wardrobe. I found this cut of lightweight, terribly off-grain cotton jersey hiding out in my stash. It was less than a yard, so not big enough for anything unless I could get creative. Trying to match the weight as closely as possible, I decided to use some black burnout knit and color-block. I love how it turned out!


I think the jersey was from Girl Charlee, back before I gave up on their quality, and the burnout is from Jo-Ann's I believe. I only had a small piece of the black as well, so this was definitely a stash-busting project.


This is a small. I chose to make my seam line roughly halfway through the sleeve. I played around with the two colors for binding and cuffs and decided on black for both. The cuffs are topstitched down to prevent flapping (which happens on my other top).

Yes, I'm wearing a black bra because I'm just that cool.

I did add some length to the bottom because I honestly had no idea if I had prewashed the fabric (again, see why A Sewist's Swatch Book became so necessary for me?!). If it shrinks a bit in the wash it won't be the end of the world, it's plenty big enough right now. I did not hem.


Sometimes all it takes to jazz up an old standby is a little color-blocking, and maybe even playing with length. I ended up with this cool effect on the sides as well.


One final construction note: the burnout was alternately fine and tricky to sew. With the serger it was fine (I lessened the presser foot pressure and increased the differential feed), but on my regular sewing machine I needed to use tissue paper underneath so it wouldn't get sucked down into the throat plate. French seams would also be a good option, but I was in a hurry and just wanted something casual.


Have you ever sewn with a burnout jersey? Offhand I can't remember doing so previously, but it was a fun change!

Tuesday, May 16, 2017

Me Made May: Halfway!

Are you enjoying MMM17 so far? I admit, I'm having a ton of fun challenging myself and scrolling through IG seeing everyone else doing the same. My pledge was to wear one item of me-made clothing every day, excluding underwear, without repeats. So far I've succeeded. My secret challenge was to wear two items as often as possible, and I've been suprisingly good at that, too!


One thing I've learned this year is that I have a lot of clothes, but it seems like I always reach for the same four things over and over. I used to think that this meant I needed more of certain patterns, but I've discovered the real truth: I'm a lazy dresser! I wear the same things because I'm in a hurry and my brain latches on to what's easy. There's nothing wrong with having favorites, but I need to push myself to take the time for careful dressing. Otherwise, I'm just making clothes for no reason, which is pretty wasteful.


You can see my daily outfit posts on Instagram. I've also created a Pinterest board called My Closet, with photos and links to all of the garments I've blogged over the years. If you see something on IG and want more info, check out My Closet to find it. A Pinterest board seemed like the fastest way to display everything in one place. It's updated all the way back through 2015, two more years of blog entries to go!

Have you learned any lessons so far during MMM?

Thursday, May 11, 2017

Sleeveless Willow Wrap Dress

A slightly modified oldie-but-goodie today! This is my fourth iteration of the Love Notions Willow Top/Dress and maybe my favorite to date!


Just to clarify, the Willow is two different patterns. Find the dress here, the top here, or the bundle here. I first made the dress almost two years ago as part of the Momiform Makeover tour. I've worn that dress a lot and decided to make another for Easter this year. Y'know, about three days beforehand haha!


Anytime you're sewing on a tight deadline, it's good to use a pattern and fabric combination you've used before. My first dress was a poly ITY knit, and so is this one (except the black band, which is cotton/Lycra). For the life of me, I can't remember where it's from (it's pre-Sewist's Swatch Book, clearly!). Same size (small). The only change is that I wanted it to be sleeveless. The pattern actually does not include a sleeveless version, so I pulled out my Laundry Day Tee, which is also from Love Notions (free if you join the Facebook group), and traced the sleeveless armhole from that pattern onto my Willow. It is finished with bands following the instructions from the LDT.


The neckline is the lower option on the pattern, no modesty panel. It's finished with my coverstitch. The rest was constructed on my serger. I ended up taking it in under the arm and down halfway through the skirt. I hesitate to say I need to go down to an XS because I think it fits across my bust, it's just baggy on the sides (mainly the bodice). A wrap dress is not the place for pulling across the bust! I need to compare the pattern pieces to see where the sizing differs between XS and S.


After a few Love Notions patterns, I've concluded that I may not have the right body shape for her sloper. It's a shame, as I love her designs and how easy the pdfs are to use. But I've had weird, head-scratching fit issues each time, ranging from extra fabric at the side seams to a seemingly wrong bust point. I've studied the photos in the LN Facebook group and I feel like the armscyes are perhaps drafted too big. You can't really see evidence of that with this sleeveless dress, but I've felt that way about my other Willows. Luckily, taking the side seams in was all I needed here, but overall I'm hesitant to purchase any more LN patterns in the future. Oddly enough, the back fits me perfectly, and typically I need a narrow shoulder adjustment.


Speaking of buying patterns, I received this one for free during the Momiform Makeover tour. Just throwing that out there in the interest of being transparent!


Have you ever "given up" a pattern company because you felt like you didn't fit their sloper? I'm curious how other people feel about this topic!

Thursday, May 4, 2017

Backless Magic Top

Lingerie sewing has been sweeping the interwebs for a few years now, and the next logical step has to be backless tops, right? What better way to show off your hard work without resorting to a low-cut or see-through garment, than a backless top?

Simplicity 8338

I've been searching for a good backless pattern but haven't come up with much other than the Bridgetown Dress. Knowing I wasn't going to make 100 backless dresses made me hesitate on spending that much for a single pattern. I was thrilled to see Simplicity 8338 debut this spring! First chance I got, I ran out and grabbed this pattern at Jo-Ann's when it was on sale. It was in my queue, albeit somewhat far down the list, until I realized I had a (rare) date night coming up and nothing new to wear. I thought that with the right fabric and with a "fancy" bra, rather than a sports bra like on the envelope, it would be perfect. Modest from the front, fun from the back (and sides, but more on that later).

Simplicity 8338

At noon the day before my date with my hubby, I threw the fabric in the wash and started cutting the tissue paper. By morning the next day it was hemmed and ready to wear! Pretty good when you have three kids on top of you all the time.

Simplicity 8338

I used a lightweight maroon rayon knit from Raspberry Creek. I definitely recommend a fabric with good drape, as the pattern is cut with a sweep to the hem and needs to drape well to avoid looking like a tent. The neckline and armholes are finished with knit binding (NOT bands...see my tutorial about binding if you need help) which I liked. The only thing I did differently was that I did not bind as if it were a woven, with a double-fold. I did a single fold with the raw edge inside. I topstitched with my coverstitch. If you try to double-fold with a strip of drapey knit you might jump off a building before this top is finished.


The back drape is finished with a self-facing. It might be tricky to attach if you haven't done something like this before, but I think the directions are adequate. I did not stitch down the facing as that seemed unnecessary and like it would stretch out the back and destroy the drape.

Simplicity 8338

I do think that the weight of the back makes the shirt shift a bit during wear, you can see in the photo below that it looks super hi-low and even a little wonky on the sides. It's just the back pulling the front.

Simplicity 8338

I'm happy to report that not only does this top work for dates when paired with a fun, lacy bra and skinnies, but it also works for exercise (magic top!). I tried it at home with some Cosmic Kids Yoga (YouTube). The front was high cut enough that it never showed off my cleavage, but the back and sides are open so I didn't get too hot.

Simplicity 8338

Simplicity 8338

Like I said, three kids on top of me all the time.

Simplicity 8338

And speaking of the sides...it's VERY low cut there, as shown above. You will be showing off the band of your bra, and potentially some side boob depending on how much coverage your bra has. If I make this again, I may bring that up a bit. In the back, you will probably be showing off the entire band. For some reason, I hated the idea of displaying the hook and eye portion of my bras (maybe some prankster would get the thought to unhook it??) so I dug through all my bras and came up with a sports bra with a lacy racerback, the one you see in the first set of photos. It has no closure, so basically it was made for this shirt and was absolutely perfect.

Simplicity 8338

When I wore it at home and to do yoga with my kids, the baby kept pulling it off of my shoulders. I ended up snipping small holes in the seam allowance at the shoulder. I happen to have a (nursing!) sports bra with straps that unhook from the back so it can be converted to a racerback. I threaded the loose straps through the holes in the seam allowance, and then rehooked them to the bra band. Viola! The shoulders stayed in place and my baby couldn't yank off the shirt anymore.

Simplicity 8338

This shirt turned out even better than I hoped and will be so versatile this summer. If you're brave enough to grab onto the backless trend, I highly recommend this one!

Simplicity 8338