Thursday, March 29, 2018

Union St. Tee Dress Hack

Add this project to the "why did it take me so long?" list. After three kids, I've realized that dresses with a waist seam are just not working for me any more. Empire waistlines make me look pregnant, and natural waist seams highlight my mama pooch and make me super self-conscious. I like a drop-waist but they are hard to find. That leaves me with loose-fitting dresses with no waist seam at all, like the Style Arc Eden I made a few weeks ago. But I wanted another option with less seaming (i.e. a faster cut/sew). Rather than reinvent the wheel, I decided to hack the Union St. Tee from Hey June.

I have made a LOT of these tees (many never made it to the blog) and I can't stop wearing them. They have the perfect loose fit without looking too sloppy. There's a V-neck or scoop neck. Three or four sleeve length options. It's perfect with drapey knits like rayon or merino. LOVE LOVE LOVE. To hack the pattern into a t-shirt dress, I cut the pattern horizontally at the waistline and moved it down and out. Sort of like the Lane Raglan tunic I made. I measured the distance I wanted from shoulder to hem and added that in; some was added at the waist and most at the hem. I made a quick muslin of the front and back and realized it was a bit too big. I ended up nipping in under the arm (and making the sleeve a little smaller) as well as shaping the center back. This means my back is not cut on the fold but that should actually help me, as I can preserve fabric when needed. It also helps with a bit of a sway back issue I'm sure I have but haven't investigated. I am using the non-updated file because I bought it right before the update was announced.

Any ideas on these wrinkles at the hips?

I used the scoop neck, which is actually my first time sewing this view. From the side this definitely looks like a nightgown...but hey, I slept in it and it IS a good nightgown. So there?

Okay, boring fit stuff aside...I love this dress. It's made with a rayon knit that I just got from Mood. The color is beautiful and exactly the right shade to highlight my eye color. It's a bit sheer but I tend to wear boy shorts or boxerwear under dresses anyway. It's seriously the most boring-looking garment of all time but I LOVE it. The best thing about boring clothing is that it's easy to mix with other things in my closet, which is particularly important this time of year. I'm constantly adding and removing layers with the nonsense that is Indiana spring.

I plan on wearing this dress on Easter with my new ponte blazer. Here's just a sample of the ways I can style it:

Don't mind the hem falling out here...
I have since fixed it

This is definitely a TNT after only one try! The neckline might get dropped on future versions but there's nothing wrong with it as is, just a personal preference. I hope I have enough of this beautiful fabric to squeeze out a tank top too.

Wednesday, March 21, 2018

70's Inspired Tie Front Romper

Isn't it fun how all the sewing bloggers are pretending it's spring weather right now? (Indiana has snow on the ground.) If we all pretend hard enough, it will happen! Sooner rather than later, I hope, so I can start wearing this amazing romper ASAP.

Tencel Twill Romper Overalls

Lately I've found myself in a Pinterest rabbit hole at least once a day. It comes in cycles for me, usually with the changing seasons so I can see what's new and get excited about switching over my wardrobe. I was immediately drawn to this photo and this romper:

I searched like crazy to find the source/maker/original and could not. That makes me ragey, I hate not being able to give credit where it's due! But being a sewist, I became obsessed with creating my own, and remembered that I had a similar pattern in my stash.

This is vintage Simplicity 7329, and it was sent to me by a good sewing friend. The date on it is 1976 (my parents were in high school, should I ask my mom if she owned something similar?) and it only had one size (12, or bust size 34, I'm about a 33). I made a super quick muslin of the bodice (only a front and back!) and then drafted my own straps. The fit was spot on, like, I was in shock how perfect it was. I generally have a long torso but since I'm simply knotting straps, there's a bit of wiggle room in the length. I did also shorten the front at the top just to make it less...covering? IDK really.

Speaking of wiggle room, the pattern was drafted to include a CB zipper, which I omitted. If I hold my breath and struggle I can get this on without one. If I make another (with long wide leg pants, drool!) I will probably put a zipper in as instructed.

With fit figured out, next I moved on to fabric. I absolutely adored the color in my inspiration photo, as well as the drape. I thought perhaps it was linen, but after consulting with a friend (the same one who sent the pattern!) she suggested Tencel. I already had an order at Mood started, and she linked me to this one of their's. It. Is. Perfect!

The color is so unbelievably rich. Sometimes it looks blue, sometimes green, sometimes both. It's luminous without being too shiny. It's a WOOL/Tencel blend twill, which makes me geek out even more because I LOVE wool. It's super soft like most rayon (Tencel is a brand name of a type of rayon) but the wool makes it nice and strong. The drape is excellent. Did I say that it's perfect?

I also made my shirt, details here.

I pre-washed the fabric by hand and air dried until damp, then ironed out the wrinkles before cutting. The long strap and short strap were drafted by me, as well as the facings that finish the top edges (due to my shortening the bodice and reshaping the back a bit, I could not use the provided facings). I also drafted the pockets and made it just big enough for my phone. To hold down the facings I stitched in the ditch (side seams) and hand-sewed (center front and center back).

Construction was done on my sewing machine and seams were all finished with my serger. This fabric frayed like crazy and the hem was finished with seam tape.

To say that this is comfortable would be a ridiculous understatement. The color pairs well with many shirts already in my closet, although I do think it looks better with a scoop neck rather than a V-neck. It works with tank tops. It would also be fun over a swimsuit. With sandals it looked a little dressier but it paired just as well with tennis shoes. This will be a great piece for Me Made May!

And just because I can, here's a side by side of my Pinspiration and my final product.

I stand like this all the time

Although, my husband said I looked like Luigi so obviously now I will never wear it with a green shirt. My six year old told me she liked it, but that I "still look like a farmer." Farmer Luigi? Maybe so. I don't really care. I've spent most of my life wearing clothes for others (my parents, to attract a mate, to dress an in utero child) and it's high time I wear what I want with little regard to outside opinions. Is that what getting older is? No longer giving any you know whats? If so, I think I like it.

Thursday, March 8, 2018

Gala Party Dress

Every now and then, I get a ridiculous idea and have to follow through with it. When my Kindergartener told me she wanted to go to her school Father/Daughter dance, naturally I wanted to sew her something special. Nevermind that it was Monday, and the dance was Friday night! Let's be real: I could have run over to the local resale shop and found her an acceptable dress for probably $10. It would have taken minimal effort, money, and time. But it wouldn't have been special! Isn't that enough of an argument for sewing clothes?

I had a few patterns dancing (har har) around in my head, but decided to pick fabric first. My daughter requested pink. I went to Jo-Ann's and spent an inordinate amount of time browsing. After a lot of debate with myself, and input from my two year old, I ended up with an embroidered netting and stretch satin. I used my rewards points at Peek-a-Boo Pattern Shop and bought the Gala Party Dress for a steal (her patterns are SO inexpensive anyway!). I ended up spending about $65 on fabric and supplies, even with three hundred coupons. That's definitely more than I ever would have spent on a RTW dress for her. That's possibly the most I've ever spent on a garment for her. Hopefully, her two sisters can wear it, and maybe all my grandkids!

By the end of the day Monday, I had pre-washed my satin (polyester, but better safe than sorry) and printed my pattern. That was it! I had a lot of work ahead of me. I made a straight size 6 and to save time I *gasp* cut the pattern and didn't trace it. The first day I had a minor setback when I realized an extremely stupid error: a square is not a circle.

The dress called for a circle skirt, but I had bought a netting with a scalloped selvedge, intending for it to be the hem. Face palm. It worked out fine eventually...I ended up cutting the yardage right up the middle, sewing the short ends, and creating a square skirt. Then I gathered the top to fit the opening for the circle skirt. This would not have been so easy with a thick fabric, but netting is not that thick. I didn't actually measure my pieces but it was probably a bit over a yard. I just used what was left after I cut the bodice.

I spent Tuesday through Thursday frantically sewing this dress. Thursday evening found me hand-sewing the bodice lining to complete the dress.

And because I can't have my life be that simple, I had also planned on making a bolero, and a matching tie for my husband. Why not right? I found a free bolero pattern on Pinterest, and a free tie pattern from Purl Soho. I BARELY squeaked out the tie pieces, and in fact cut corners (literally). The lining was muslin from my stash. The majority of the tie was sewn by hand and it also required careful (read: time-consuming) pressing.

The bolero was super simple even though it's fully lined and reversible. Magically, I had a perfectly sized piece of netting left to put on the back of the bolero, and this perfectly matching pink knit ribbing in my stash. The inside is a cream bamboo knit from The Fabric Fairy that sacrificed itself to the cause (I was saving it for a tshirt for me). I also appliqu├ęd a few flowers to the front (didn't have enough fabric to fully overlay the front).

Friday morning I cut and sewed the entire bolero, AND shopped at the aforementioned resale shop for tights and shoes and hair accessories. Friday afternoon I finished hand-sewing the tie and the bolero (just the opening for turning). The moment I tied the tie and hung everything up on hangers, my brain completely shut down. All the adrenaline disappeared from my system and I felt totally wiped. Everything I had made was gorgeous, perhaps my favorite ensemble ever, but MAN was it draining to work on such a deadline!

When it was all said and done, they spent an hour and a half at the dance before my daughter got tired and wanted to come home. All that time, effort, and money for an hour and a half. This is not an indictment of her, OF COURSE it was only that long, but perhaps I should have thought harder about my return on investment. She loves it, obviously. I hope she felt special and wonderful, but who ever really knows with a six year old. I wish we had another occasion for her to wear it, but I think it might be too fancy for Easter? I'm rambling, a bit.

I know there will be a time in my life when I look back at these photos and get the sniffles, and I forget all the work that went into the outfit. A little bit like bringing a child into this world in the first place, right?

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