Tuesday, August 31, 2021

Vogue 8766 Party Dress and Rebecca Page Shapewear

Reach back in your mind...to a simpler time. To a time when people could dress up and laugh near each other, and dance the night away and have fun. Remember that? Just barely. Want to stroll down memory lane with me and take a look at my fancy dress from the summer of 2019? (But first, go get vaccinated.)

My husband (used to have) work parties once a year. This particular one was at a hotel and resort in French Lick, Indiana, which is famous for the West Baden hotel. In 2019, we stayed in French Lick for the whole weekend, which was the first time we've done two nights away from the kids. I laid by the pool, tried to order a mimosa (no champagne poolside at 11am, how rude) and of course, got all dressed up.

I still can't believe it, but both of these fabrics were from Jo-Ann's, and both were clearance or overstock or spot the bolt or something. It was truly meant to be, because the white is SILK shantung and the black is nylon (not polyester) lace! I've never seen silk in Jo-Ann's, before or since.

I wanted the fabrics to shine, so I picked a simple silhouette. The pattern is Vogue 8766, View D bodice with View F skirt. I muslined the bodice three times to perfect the fit. I ended up changing the angle of the shoulder seam, narrowing the shoulders, and removed a wedge from CF. All these changes were to remove areas that were gaping. Some sort of narrow shoulder adjustment is not an unusual change for me. I also removed 1" from the skirt hem to better accommodate the lace.

Originally, I wanted to use the selvage of the lace for the skirt hem to save myself the aggravation of hemming. Of course, that only works if your skirt is a square, which this one isn't. I ended up doing a rolled hem on my serger, using black thread, and it's been perfect.

I hand-picked the zipper and also finished the white skirt hem with hem tape. The lace pattern doesn't quite match up across the back, but I'm still proud of how invisible the zip is. And the lace matches on the front bodice, so that's what matters the most.

This dress is SO twirly and flattering and was worth every second of effort, even if I only got to wear it once. Twice, if you count these photos from last week! 

Since I had the camera out and it was fitting for the dress, I also took pictures of my new shapewear. This pattern is from Rebecca Page, and is the only one like it I have found (and I've been looking). This was my first RP pattern and I was beyond impressed with the details. like a cutting checklist with photos of the fabric cut out, a one page quick sew cheat sheet, and seam allowances noted on EVERY pattern piece. The only thing I wish there had been were some notches on the crotch piece, because it's easy to get that backwards if you're not paying attention. 

The high waist option was sky high, which is weird for me as I have a long torso. I used 2" elastic in the "waist" instead of 3/8" and that was how I reduced the torso length. Other than that, the fit was excellent. I used a heavy nylon/lycra that I got from LA Finch Fabrics (I *think* it's the same as this one)

A little backstory and sort of disclaimer...back in May, Rebecca Page had an application out for their Brand Ambassador program. I applied, and as a thank you to applicants they sent us a coupon code. I had saved the shapewear pattern forever ago and that was the push I needed to finally buy it. Well, a few weeks later I found out I had been selected as a Brand Ambassador! I officially started in August but my first BA project probably won't be out until September.

ANYWAY I can't wait to wear this dress again. I'm not sure if that will ever happen, but it's certainly going to stay in my closet and be a wonderful reminder of that magical weekend, long ago in 2019.

*This post contains affiliate links. I purchased both patterns mentioned in this post. All opinions are my own.

Tuesday, August 17, 2021

Jalie Activewear Round Up

I seem to have a backlog of recent activewear creations. As a member of the Fabric Fairy Promo Team, I frequently have my eye on the many MANY different kinds of activewear fabrics available...even if I don't always understand what makes one different from another. I love natural fibers, and it's hard for me to wrap my brain around performance fabrics sometime. But, I'm trying to learn, so let's take a look at what I've sewn and worn recently!

Top is a North Shore Swimsuit

First up, a couple pairs of shorts, using Jalie 3351. I ordered the paper pattern from The Fabric Fairy, along with two kinds of stretch mesh. These purple shorts were made with Court Purple Dri-Fit Stretch Mini Mesh. This is a Nike overstock fabric and there are a couple different colors. 

The side panels are using a FF print from a Bonanza Box (mine was a flawed box but not all of them are) that I got last year, it has since sold out. It was a great match for the purple and I'm glad I saved it! The pattern was easy to put together and the fit is good, but one knock against Jalie patterns is their teeny tiny seam allowances. The SA was 1/4" on this pattern, which leaves very little room for error if you happen to be an imprecise sewist. I made a size T for my 38" hips. I did not make the attached briefs.

I decided I wanted another pair of the shorts, but with full waistband elastic, instead of the small stabilizing piece as directed by the pattern. 

Top is a Soma Swimsuit

This mesh is a super dark navy, with small bubbles. It is called Obsidian Dri-Fit Bubble Jacquard Poly Spandex Mesh, and it is also from Nike. For my shorts, I used the side with the bubbles sinking in as the right side, but found out later this is actually the wrong side. Oops. The print for the side pockets is leftover from this swimsuit.

I find myself reaching for the navy shorts more than the purple, but I'm not sure if that's because I'm not big on purple or if I prefer the bubble mesh. I think both. I also managed to squeeze a Shenanigans Skort from the remaining bubble mesh, with a wool blend short underneath, for playing golf.

Top is an Oakley Vest

Speaking of golf, how about a me-made golf shirt? Enter another Jalie pattern, 2562. This one I purchased as a download directly from Jalie. 

The pink fabric I used for this top is Hot Pink Under Armour Dry Pro Micropoly Lycra Pique Knit Fabric (I cannot get the color to come out right in my photos, but the website is correct). It comes in a lot of other colors as well. I made an R in the bust and graded to a T hip, but it feels a tad snug. Again, the 1/4" SA is not my fave, especially when making a placket and collar with a stand! Plackets and collars benefit from careful, neat pressing, and in this synthetic fabric that's basically impossible. I did my best with the sewing, but don't look too closely.

The pattern is supposed to have sleeves, but I'm not a fan of the tan lines that come with that. I cut the armhole about an inch lower and added a band to make it sleeveless. I played golf on a sunny, 85 degree day and the fabric kept me pretty cool. And who doesn't love hot pink?

I made my visor too!

I'm going to consider this my good luck shirt, because I got my first birdie EVER while wearing it. My kids are getting older and giving me more time for being active, so I'm grateful for the opportunity to explore all these activewear fabrics.

As a member of The Fabric Fairy promo team, I am given a credit to purchase fabrics of my choosing. Anything costing above the credit, I pay for myself. I've been a lover of TFF long before I was on the promo team, and all opinions are my own.

Thursday, August 5, 2021

Vero Beach Side Seam Tie Hack

Oh look, another Pinterest-inspired hack! This one is much easier than my last one. Let's take a look at the photo that inspired me:

I love this look and how the tie is a bit fancier than a casual pair of elastic waist pants. The belt loops and side seam tie seemed like a quick easy hack. I chose the Hey June Vero Beach Shorts, but you could do this hack with any elastic waist pants pattern with waistband side seams.

Construct your pants as usual, up until it's time to put together the waistband. Using a serger or your preferred method, finish the seam allowance edges for the side seams.

Fold over your waistband. Ignoring the lower seam allowance which will be used to sew the waistband to the pants, measure how big your waistband will be (this is also likely the width of the waistband elastic recommended by the pattern). Your goal is to find the center of the waistband and set your tie on that spot.

You will need to leave an opening for the tie when you sew your side seams together. Mark your side seam opening on your waistband (I LOVE these heat sensitive Frixion pens for marking, they disappear when you iron on them!).

Sew the side seams, NOT sewing between your marks.

Press your seam allowances open.

Follow your pattern's directions to attach the waistband to the pants and insert elastic. Topstitch your waistband, making sure you are stitching above and below the holes you left in the side seams. 

Make sure to hit the waistband with a good bit of steam pressing, you'll be amazed at how much better the topstitching looks! Insert your tie through the holes using a bodkin or safety pin.

To make belt loops, cut a rectangle of fabric 2"x8". Finish one long edge with a serger or zig-zag stitch. 

Fold the rectangle in thirds, unfinished edge inside the finished edge. Cut the rectangle in half to make two belt loops.

Topstitch the loops to hold the flaps down on the back.

Fold the short ends of the loops over and attach the belt loops to the front of the pants.

After finishing my pants with the solid pink twill tape, I thought they looked a bit too much like PJs, so I switched that tie out for a self-fabric tie. I think the print might still read pajamas, and this hack would look better in a solid fabric like the inspiration. Maybe I'll try this hack again with the Hey June Seaforth Pants.

Tank top is RTW from a local brewery/distillery. I don't buy clothes often, but when I do you can bet they're pink!

Tuesday, August 3, 2021

Sew Better Pants: 3 Tips to Improve Your Work

If sewing projects are mountains, pants are Mount Everest. Long, arduous, complicated. And maybe you'll freeze to death before you get to the end of your quest. Or something like that. Now that I've made quite a few pairs of pants, I find myself turning to the same tricks to make the process work better, so I thought it was time to share! For the purposes of this list, I'm referring to woven pants like Ginger Jeans or Hey June Seaforth Pants, not knit pants such as the Hudson Joggers.

TIP ONE: Reinforce the waistband

File this one under "things I learned the hard way". We've all been there. We've skipped interfacing entirely or we've chosen something too lightweight. The waistband stretches, or rolls, or bags out. It's worth taking some time to experiment with different weights of interfacing to get a feel for how sturdy one is over the other. In my experience, when in doubt use a strong weight, in the waistband AND the facing. 

Compare these two pairs of Winslow Culottes:

The top pair has a single layer of interfacing (it's a fold over waistband, but I only interfaced half of it). You can see from the photo that it collapses on itself, even just laying on a table. The pink pair, I interfaced the entire waistband before folding it over, resulting in a double layer of interfacing and fabric. This pair is MUCH sturdier and functions far better.

TIP TWO: Study wrinkles

This is a fun tip, because it requires you to stare at your butt and your crotch. You can do this in a mirror, but it might be easier to take photos and study them with a fitting resource. My first choice is the pants fitting guide from Closet Core Patterns, but Pants for Real People is great too.  Just remember that you'll never eliminate all wrinkles, that some must be there in order to give you the proper ease. Fit is a continuous learning process, our bodies grow and change and you will need to adapt to those changes. 

TIP THREE: Be okay with failure

This tip is tough to swallow. Making pants is a big investment in time and resources, and it's frustrating to spend time on something only to call it a failure. I went back to 2014 to pull the above photo, and frankly it's difficult for me to look at directly (those pants are SO BAD). The truth is, minimal progress is still progress, and if you learn even one thing from a pair of pants that is wearable, you've succeeded. I made countless pairs of jeans, over YEARS, before I had a pair I wore regularly. The truth is, if you want to get better at something, you have to fail first!

BONUS TIP: Take notes. Lots of notes.

Everyone has their own method for recording pattern changes...and sometimes that method is "Faulty Memory". Even if you cut or change your paper pattern, if you don't take notes on those changes it's difficult to let other sewists know what you had to do to get your fit right. When I'm being good, I use my Sewist's Notebook to write down every fit change I've made to a pattern (spilling coffee on it is optional). Not only does that help me with a blog or Instagram post, but next time, if I want to change things again, I know what I've already done. Filling out the notebook at the end of a project is the perfect way to wipe my mental slate clean and move on to the next thing.

What are your hot tips for making pants? Let me know in the comments below!

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