Wrap Top Fitting

Today I’m here to talk about the process of getting a pattern to fit how I prefer. On Monday I’ll have a full review of this pattern 1942 Two-Piece Dress  from Eva Dress Patterns posted on The Curvy Sewing Collective, but over here I’m writing about making muslins!

This pattern comes with sizes grouped together. So you can either get bust sizes 32-38 or 40-46. I purchased 40-46. For my first muslin I cut a size 40 for the shoulders graded into a 42 at the waist.

I thought this looked pretty promising over all. The shoulder cut in a bit closer than I wanted, but otherwise the big issue is the center front lines are no where close to meeting! I’d expected that over the bust was a bit surprised by the waist. I figured, no worries. I knew I was going to do a full bust adjustment, this just confirmed that was the right next step.

Ack! Okay, I did a 1.5 inch full bust adjustment to each side and now the center front lines aligned and the waist looked nice, but the blouse had too much length! Way too much! This is also how I saw the sleeve caps had tons of extra height.

I also saw how the back was much too long as well. Though this is a common issue I have with patterns.

At this point I was frustrated. I’d done what you should do to add room for the bust, but it didn’t work out like I’d planned. I almost quit. Then I went to an online sewing forum through Ravelry and asked for feedback on how I should proceed.

The consensus seemed to be that I should go back to version 1 and rethink how to add width. I studied the shoulder pleats and figured out where the bust apex was on the original pattern. Then made the decision to gasp! just add the width at the side seams.

I think it worked out pretty darn well.

Instead of grading the pattern from size 40-42 between the bust and waist, I went ahead and traced off a size 42 for the entire front piece along the side seam. Then for the side with the tie I traced the neckline starting with a size 20 at the shoulder and a size 46 at the tie. This still didn’t add enough width, so I also slash and spread the pattern by 1 inch. To accommodate the slash and spread as well as the too wide shoulders I added 2 pleats to the shoulders.

As you can see now the tie actually reaches fully to the side seam as in the original pattern envelope art!

Lastly I tossed my sleeve pattern piece with the large bicep adjustment and traced the size 40 sleeve cap with size 42 bicep.

Is the finished blouse perfect? Nope. But it fits a lot better than either of my muslins.

The sleeves are a bit long. So next time I’ll take some length out above the elbow pleats. But that is such a minor alteration to make compared to the other fit issues! To be fair I did not muslin the longer sleeves, so totally my own fault!

The fashion fabric is some lovely Swiss dot voile I picked up at Michael Levine’s during the same visit when I bought the pink/purple plaid used to make my Dahlia dress. It is so soft and light and lovely to wear. Just enough to provide nice coverage on a warm day.

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This project felt like a lot of work, but I am overall happy with how it turned out! I’m not making a lot of pieces right now, so it feels good to slow down and embrace the process.

Out of Time Out

Let’s talk about Colette. Their pattern block is somewhat less than desirable for a large portion of the sewing crowd, but several years ago there weren’t as many competitors on the indie scene. Like many others I purchased a few Colette patterns. I loved their vintage inspired esthetic.

Then I made these patterns and they were pretty much flops. I blamed myself. As a largely self-taught sewer I figured I just didn’t have the skill. Now I know that I am not alone!  Colette patterns are notorious for their wide shoulders, odd sleeves, and flat butts. Ahhhhhhhh. It all makes sense now.

I am by no means an expert, but I think I do okay at getting things to fit. I like to experiment, but last year I got really fed up. You see, I attempted to make Colette’s Dahlia. Gosh I love the way the pattern looks on the original model. I’m linking the sew-a-long because Colette has changed the pictures on their site.

But making the pattern proved to be very frustrating. I’d searched pattern reviews and only found nice versions! But when I put on my finished dress the shoulders were so big they stood up and touched my ears. I was dismayed. I was upset. I knew someone who had made the dress and her’s turned out great, but mine was unwearable.

So I gathered the neckline, turned the binding under, and then stitched it all smaller. I still hated the dress. Pissed off and disappointed I threw Dahlia in a corner and forgot about it…until today.

I pulled it back out because I was going to use the skirt fabric along with my leftover yardage to makes a blouse! But I thought I should try on the dress one more time and photograph it. I put the dress on and well, it looks pretty good!

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I mean sure, it’s not perfect. The neckline looks pretty crappy, but a cardigan is going to hide all those sins. Still a little wrinkled in these photos, but not bad over all. I remembered I really liked the skirt and waistband!

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I have zero memory about what size I made or what alterations I made to the pattern. None. Oh well. I’m unlikely to try this pattern again anyways.

I do remember this fabric.

I’d bought it at Michael Levine’s for maybe $5/yard. It was labeled 100% cotton, but it probably a cotton/poly blend. I really need to throw a slip on underneath so the fabric glides more freely! But another reason this fabric stands out in my mind is because as I was watching Modern Family I saw Cam wearing a shirt from the same fabric!

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Hilarious, right?

For now I’m just happy to come to peace with my version of Dahlia. It’s not what I originally wanted, but far from the wreck I saw in the mirror last year.

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Narwhal Dress

Did you know there is a whole world out there of specialty printed fabric organized through Facebook groups? No? I wasn’t either! One of my parenting group friends started posting pictures of her daughters in all these cute outfits so I asked her where she found the fabrics and now I’ve been sucked into the Facebook group scene!

So far I’ve only ordered through one company, Sahara Fabrics. It is similar to ordering through Spoonflower in that there are a bunch of prints posted that you can order, but to cut down on the costs they only offer a select number of designs at one time. The companies keeps just a small stock of any item and generally once it is gone that’s it. Some of these companies specialize in science themed fabric, fan art fabric, and fabric to make knock off Lularoe leggings. Many of these companies also offer fun and different PUL fabric for the cloth diaper scene (oh if only I’d know about this when we were cloth diapering!). Sahara stocks a lot of cloth diaper supplies, but they also offer a lot of cute cotton/lycra prints and some bamboo knits as well. Most of the designs are suited to kids, but a few will appeal to adults too.

The fabric for Lu’s dress came to me through a mix up at the post office. I’d ordered this print for my narwhal obsessed friend who welcomed a son earlier this year. But then the package was lost in the great and powerful USPS system. Sahara and I waited the required number of days to declare the package lost and then Sahara graciously sent me out a new package. Well imagine our surprise when the original fabric bundle re-surfaced and arrived at my doorstep! Sahara told me to keep the fabric and so I got a little bit of narwhal fabric to keep.

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Lu’s dress is cut from 1 Narwhal Magic Panel. This is a specialty product in which there is a graphic print and a coordinating print all on one length of fabric. The panel measured 30 inches tell x 58 inches wide making it just less than a full yard of cotton knit.

I sat on it for a few months while trying to figure out what I could make from it. But as the weather has turned cooler at night I realized Lu really needs long sleeved nightgowns and dresses. This could be both depending on her mood.

I used all but a few scraps to make this dress. The front was centered over the narwhal. The back was lined up with the first two lines of stars. The neck binding was from the bottom row of stars (I think mine was missing the very top row above the narwhal). And then I cut the sleeves, skirt, and ruffle from the striped fabric.

The skirt is a little on the narrow side and Lu and I both thought the length was not quite enough. So at the very top of the skirt I added a thin strip of solid navy that was from just above the narwhal on the panel. After cutting the main pieces I had this awkward narrow strip of stripes that I cut into smaller segments then sewed end to end to make a ruffle. It’s the kind of detail that I think really makes the dress more fun!

The base pattern is Made by Rae’s Flask Back Skinny Tee. All I did was cut it shorter so I could make it into a dress. I love this tee pattern. So simple and basic and adjustable. All the traits I love in a hack-a-ble pattern!

And clearly Lu loves the finished dress! She took it straight off the sewing machine to wear to bed last night. Such a great feeling as a mom!

Houndstooth and Distraction

I have a new dress to add to my stack of Washington dress hacks! This time a mash up of the Washington Dress from Cashmerette for the bodice and sleeves, the Moneta from Colette for the neckline, and a self drafted half circle skirt.

My husband was out of town, so I had my enthusiastic four year old take photos for me. It’s something she loves to do. “Do a pose mommy!”

The dress overall turned out pretty great. I love the fit, but oh that pattern placement. As I was cutting the fabric the dog was walking back and forth over it and the four year old was standing over my shoulder asking me for snacks. I did great at placing the pattern for the sleeves and top, but the skirt is off. Dang! I totally forgot to make sure the center fronts lined up.

Hello photo bomber!

The fabric is Ann Kelle Remix Knit from Robert Kaufman. It is a 100% cotton interlock. I’ve used this fabric a few times before and this is the most success I’ve had. Why? Well I took a step away from my serger and made the entire dress on my regular machine using something like a baseball stitch. It has become my go-to stitch for knits since I don’t have the lightning bolt option.

I really wish I could fix the pattern placement. I suppose I could, but the fabric doesn’t take to seam ripping very well. I’d ended up having to cut all the pieces apart and deal with having the lengths of the skirt and bodice be too short. So I think I’ll just leave it and try to take the misplacement as a reminder to slow down when I’m cutting. At least the fabric only cost me about $9 at M & L Fabrics and about 2 hours of my time.

And here is what it looks like at the end of the day. Stretched out for sure, but a run through the dryer will tighten the fabric back up for the next outing. And I at least have one more nice heavy weight knit dress for winter!

Sewing For My Curves

Hi there! Today I’m over at the Curvy Sewing Collective talking about how I sew for my curves. I hope you’ll hope on over and give it a read!

As an addendum I wanted to speak to the recent interviews with Tim Gunn and how it relates to my own sewing.

Tim got into a little hot water with his interviews, but I am that average woman. When we talks about the size 16 woman who lives just outside the misses sizing, he is talking about me.

Usually when I used to shop for clothing I could find tops that fit, but then I couldn’t find bottoms. And when you venture into the plus size stores the tops were too large, but surprisingly so were the skirts! So where do you go to look for clothing? Obviously I turned to sewing.

Even in sewing patterns I live on the edge. In the Big 4 (Simplicity, McCalls, Butterick, and Vogue) my top half fits into the misses sized patterns, but my hip measurement is too large. And very often the indie patterns stop just short of my size. I recently went looking for a slip pattern and everything was either too small (misses) or too large (plus size). This is what makes me grateful for the skills I have in fitting clothes to me shape. But what about the millions of American women who depend on stores to purchase clothing?

And then there is Tim’s opinion that people should look “long and lean”. I know many women were unhappy with his statement, but that is honestly how I want to look. I’ve spent many years working on my fitting skills and critically analyzing my personal style to make myself feel long and lean. And that’s the key, I want to feel that way. I know I am neither long nor lean. So I work to create that illusion. Necklines to balance my bust, open cardigans to provide a vertical line, defined waists to show off my smallest part, and skirts with just the right amount of flair to balance my figure and skim my hips.

I’m sure some of this comes down to when I became an adult. I’m only 2 weeks younger than Britney Spears. I was a teenager/young adult in the days of ultra low rise jeans and when a boyish figure with large breasts was the most popular shape. When I graduated college and moved to The Valley I lived with two girls who went to parties at the Playboy Mansion when “The Girls Next Door” was on TV. I was never that version of beautiful. But I was able to embrace my figure. I could reach for fit and flare dresses and heels that made me feel more comfortable with my shape. And now I look back and see that I’ve always had a pretty similar style. As I’ve aged and my body has changed so have some slight preferences, but I’ve stayed true to my idea of what I think is flattering.

So while I understand why people are unhappy with Tim Gunn’s comments, I can relate to what he is saying. Many years ago he referred to the “Slobification of America” and that struck a cord too. In a word where crazy printed leggings are becoming the norm, I’m glad to hear a voice in fashion that is still pushing for polished clothes while encouraging inclusiveness.

 

 

 

Speckles and Sparkles

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I’ve been toiling away on little projects lately, but just in time for cooler evenings I’ve finished my 2nd ever pair of socks.

Poor things have been on the needles since July, but I only ever worked on them during my lunch breaks. Well July is also around the time I started spending 80% of my lunch time walking. These socks were knit 5 minutes here and there!

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But goodness they are colorful and the yarn is sparkly too so they will be a joy to wear during the dark winter ahead. It doesn’t get very cold here, but our only heater is in the back of the house and I will need these coach socks.

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With each pair of socks I’ve been trying a different heel construction. These were knit from a pattern called Fleegle’s Toe Up Socks. And I like the heel construction okay. I think I still prefer the slipped stitch heel I tried on my first pair.

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The yarn is from LushKnit. I’ve known Megan through Ravelry for years and years so I have been thrilled to see her tackling yarn dying with such joy. You can tell she is inspired with each color way. This is Moonage Daydream after the David Bowie song. I kept missing her updates so she graciously offered to dye me up a custom order.

The yarn base is super soft and wonderful to work with, though the sparkles don’t photograph on the light colors. And while I’d hoped the yarn would be more speckled than pooling I will say not a speck of dye came out in the bath. That is a miracle for me. I rarely do color work because our water composition seems to make every single color bleed in the soak! But not Moonage Daydream!!!

And now back to all the other little things I’ve been tackling. I maxed out on summer clothes. I always know I have enough when I need to do laundry because of underwear instead of dresses. But soon enough I’ll need cool weather clothes and I’ll have some new makes to share here.

 

Superstar! 

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This is a kid who is ready to take on the world!

We’ve had a busy start to the school year, but I did manage to make Lu a new sweater in time for her first day as a Superstar at preschool. This is her 3rd and final year at her school and she’s certainly one of the big kids now.

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She’s also spent all summer growing taller and taller. I’m pretty sure she’s 75% legs now. When I went to pull out her uniforms I found none of her sweaters were long enough anymore.

So I turned to my Ravelry library and found I had Georgie Nicolsen’s Feris Wheel pattern. Plus I had some Cascade 220 Superwash Sport in Red to match her dress code.

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The sweater came together really well and clearly Lu likes it. Georgie’s patterns are nice to knit because they are written where you pick a width and height. I picked the 20 inch chest and size 4 length. What can I say, the girl is tall and slender! The only thing I wish is I’d added more increases to the front. The sweater isn’t meant to be worn closed (despite the buttons), but Lu tries to pull it closed anyways.

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Silly Lu. She just doesn’t ever stop moving! But she’s been off to a good start for the school year and hopefully we’ll get more cool weather soon so Lu can continue to wear her new favorite sweater.