Stretchy Fabric Strikes Again!

Well, I’m still continuing on my journey to learn about stretch fabrics. My latest project is a testament to why I need to slow down and think a little more. Probably a reoccurring theme on this blog. I’m not a process sewer. I want a finished item and I want it NOW! So sometimes (most of the time) I forge ahead even when things don’t seem quite right.

So here is another one of my Washington Dress Hacks.

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Oh hey! That doesn’t seem too bad. And really the dress looks pretty good in the photos. So why am I unhappy? Well this fabric is SO STRETCHY. The first time I used this fabric I made a Moneta (post here) and it stretched all crazy out of shape. I thought it was the pattern. Now I’m thinking it was the fabric choice.

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This is some crazy cheap fabric I found at M&L Fabrics in the $3/yard section. It’s a Robert Kaufman interlock as part of a Valori Wells collection. I love the print. I’ve been hoarding it for a year deciding what to make. But it is also totally different from the Valori Wells interlock knit I bought that was from Free Spirit. So confused!  I’m guessing she switched companies between collections and suddenly I’m shopping the discount bin and finding things from a long while ago. Whoops!

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Anyways, to make matter worse this fabric is also 100% cotton and has zero recovery. So while it drapes beautifully it wouldn’t be so great for something that needs to snap back throughout the day. I’d contemplated making a wrap dress, but I’m glad I went with something simple. Even sewing this fabric was a total pain. I had to wash and dry it just to make it wearable post stitching.

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Regardless I will keeping wearing the dress. Probably only over the weekends. It is really comfy even if I’m not in love. It makes my bust look down right saggy as shown in this photo my mom snapped while we were miniature golfing.

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Plus the weight of the fabric pulls it all forward. Not a huge deal on the putt putt course, but not exactly appropriate for the office!

I’m pretty certain I’m going to take it in at the side seams a touch. The fabric has the stretch and I lowered the arm hole depth on this version so the space is there. Maybe it will help anchor the dress to my body. Worth a try?

Making a Muslin – Liberty Edition

After feeling frustrated by my recent attempts at making woven dresses, I took a step back. What pattern has fit me the best? Could I work with it? Well I thought on it for a while and determined the Gertie dress I made a few months back is still my favorite. Light as air to wear and with a good fit. It only needed a few tweaks. So I’m saying goodbye to the Upton pattern for now. Maybe, just maybe I need to stick with misses patterns and grade out rather than starting with plus patterns. Worth trying!

So I put on my Gertie dress to access the fit. Lots of little tweaks, but nothing huge.

  1. Take out 1/2 inch the front neckline
  2. Increase the waist front darts 1/2 inch
  3. Lower the bust darts
  4. Make back darts end higher
  5. Make sway back adjustment less severe

Looks like a lot, but most of these were easy to accomplish when re-tracing the pattern. Then I conquered an adjustment I’d been mulling over for a while. A narrow back adjustment as outlined in this Threads Magazine article.

Now, one would normally use something like muslin fabric or something purchased cheaply, but I’m running low on wadder fabric. I used my Liberty!

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It worked! Well, not quite! The finished dress is beautiful, but it turned out I’d over done lowering the bust darts! I had to rip it all apart to redo them. In the end that worked out well because now I have custom fit darts.

I’m thinking I might take that approach more often. These are some of my most successful darts and it wouldn’t be terrible hard to do. I could just sew the top and bottom of the side seam then try on my dress and pinch out the darts as I wanted them.

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This was supposed to be a muslin to test my newly re-drafted bodice, but then when the darts were all wrong I couldn’t bear to fix the darts and then rip this all apart to trace off the pieces. I guess that’s what happens when one decides to test new ideas with Liberty of London lawn. This stuff is too expensive and dear to rip apart, but I love all my stash fabrics too much to make a wadder.

I ended up picking this yardage piece because it had been sitting unloved for too long. It was only 2 yards of Penrose Rose (color D) I purchase on an Massdrop a while back. Part of me wanted to see if I could get a whole dress out of such a small piece and I’m thrilled that I could!

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One of the other issues I encountered was a lack of lining fabric in my stash. I seriously need to pick up some nice lawn to have on hand! I dug around a found a few scraps of ivory lawn left over from my 1912 dress. It wasn’t enough to make the all in one facing I’d planned. It wasn’t even enough for bias tape! But the awkwardly shaped scraps were just enough to make some very narrow facings.

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These worked perfectly and do not flip out the way full sized facing usually do.

The other issue I encountered was when I finished the dress it looked too plain. It was just a simple thing with a whole lot of patterned fabric. I dug around through my lace scraps and found a length of antique cotton lace that was leftover from a 1930s dress I made years ago. It definitely made this dress look less homemade.

Lastly for the skirt I took the leftover yardage after cutting out the bodice pieces and determined I could just eek out a skirt that came to the top of my knees while still being able to line up the subtle striping pattern at the side seams. it also means the skirt is a full 100 inches wide! So wide! To keep the width from becoming overwhelming without a petticoat I pleated the fabric using my own fingertip as a guide on how large to make each pleat.

I’d thought about making a less wide skirt, but I didn’t want to have an awkward piece of fabric leftover. In retrospect I could have used the leftovers to make bias tape, but now that the dress is done I am so glad I went for the super pleated skirt.

Since I finally have a dress I love I’m trying to decide what to make next. I wanted to make a shirt dress this summer, so maybe that should be next. While I ponder I have a couple quick knit things to make. What do you all think I should tackle next?

Month in the Making

Getting the fit right on a woven dress continues to allude me. While my husband was away last month I spend a lot of time daydreaming about how I was going to get a better fit on my woven dresses, but I think you’ll see it is not quite there yet.

Here my my 3rd attempt at the Cashmerette Upton Dress and I still don’t feel like I’ve been able to get something that looks like the pattern envelope.

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This is a mishmash of sizes now. The back is a 12 to a 14 at the waist. The front is a 12 to a 16 at the waist. I squared off the shoulders which helped some with the gaping neckline, but oh those bust darts. Bad. Not happy.

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And in the back I feel like the shoulders are still wide and this is the smallest size in the pattern. It is too long in the back as well yet too tight at the waist. But when I did a larger size the waist was too large. Sigh.

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The one detail I really love about this dress is the binding along the arms. It was sent to me in a knitters swap a lot time ago. I have tried pairing it will so many projects and it never quite worked. But I thought is was quite lovely paired with the loominous fabric of this particular dress.

The skirt is actually from this Lisette dress failure from earlier this year. I’m happy to give at least half the fabric a second life in something I will actually wear regularly even if the fit isn’t perfect!

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I also wanted to acknowledge I am probably being hard on myself. I’ve said it before, but I need to repeat it for my own benefit. This dress, even with all its issues is nicer and better fitting than anything I could buy in a store. When it comes to light as air summer dresses the loominous fabric is amazing, but I still hold out hope that I can nail down a summer dress fit before I need to switch into winter sewing mode.

Taming the Sailors Shawl

Well hello there! I’m back and feeling rested and ready to tackle some new projects again! My husband has been in Argentina for the last month and when combined with solo parenting and Stepbet I have been one exhausted lady! But now my husband is home again. I got two consecutive full nights of sleep and I’m a whole new woman.

So today I’m here to share a shawl I knit earlier this summer. I’m not much of a shawl wearer, but about once a year I get a hankering to knit lace just because I want to. Shawls are the best projects for random lace knitting!

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This is the gorgeous Sandpiper Shawl from Laura Aylor. I’ve had my eye on this design for the last year, but I just couldn’t decide on what yarn to use. Then as the warm weather set in I found myself in need of a small project I could knit on my lunch breaks.

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Plus I had a gorgeous single skein of Madelinetosh Tosh Merino Light in Jacaranda Bloom. This is a color Madelinetosh created at my recommendation and this skein was sent to me as a gift from a fellow knitter. How did I leave it sitting unloved for almost 3 years?!?!

The main body of the shawl is Astral Bath Spectra in the delightfully titled color Rum, Sodomy, and the Lash while the eyelet row is Spectra in Naked. Hmmm, this is starting to sound like an R rated shawl. Ha!

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And because my husband wasn’t home you all get to experience more photos from a 4 year old photographer. Lu took great joy in making me do all kinds of poses to show off the size of the shawl.

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As you can see it is quite generously sized. I used about 700 yards of yarn all together and this nicely covers my shoulders. It only took about 6 weeks worth of lunch time knitting to complete! Highly recommended pattern!!!


And now I’ll also talk a little bit about fitness and Stepbet. I have no intention of making this a fitness blog, but I thought it may prove useful for others to hear a review.

One of the groups where I hang out on Ravelry has been on a huge fitness kick in recent years, but generally I don’t participate in their contests because it is so hard to balance my personal life and finding the time to work out can be tough. However someone brought up the idea of all joining a Stepbet contest and I jumped at the chance to take part in something where I felt I could succeed.

The idea behind the app is everyone puts the same amount of money into the pot and all the people who make their own personal goal for all 5 weeks gets to split the pot.

Pros

  • Everyone gets their own personal goal. The goals are set by the game, but most people had achievable numbers. Mine were roughly 9,300 for active days and 12,000 for stretch days.
  • It got me moving! I did not realize quite how sedentary I’d become until I had to walk several miles each day, 6 days a week.
  • I won cash! I don’t know the final amount yet, but it is probably about $10.
  • It was fun to do with a group of other people and we all cheered each other on.

Cons

  • The biggest negative is that you are basically rooting for people to fail if you want to win any more money than what you put in. You need more than 25% of people to lose. Kind of sad.
  • 5 weeks of having no free time got me a whole $10.
  • There is no room for bad days. Like when my younger daughter decided to wake up for the day at 3am and I was a total wreck I still had to walk my ass off. 100F heat and extremely poor air quality from a wildfire? Still had to figure out a way to walk miles and miles.
  • When it started I didn’t own a Fitbit or other step tracking device so I had to carry my phone. At first it wasn’t so bad, but I quickly got really tired of carrying my phone every single place I went. It got even more annoying when I got a Fitbit and saw I was walking on average 1,000 steps more than my phone registered.

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But I won and it feels great! I plan to keep up walking, but maybe not quite to the same level. I’m still sorting out what I want my plan to be, but I’m thinking a goal of 10,000 steps 4-5 days a week. I’d also like to add more stretching to my day as my muscles feel really tight.

I think my Ravelry group is going to work on a new contest. Something where its a good thing if everyone wins, because who wants their friend to fail? Not me!

 

Summer Sewjo

July has been one exhausting month! I signed up for a fitness program called StepBet which means I’ve been spending a couple hours a day walking instead of knitting and sewing. My poor hobbies feel so sad and neglected! It has also been quite hot so I am much more drained by all the physical activity than I would be in cooler conditions. All griping aside, I’ve enjoyed making walking more of a priority in my life. Just less to post here!

Anyways, I got to a place where I just needed to make something to get out of my rut. I’d made a few toddler nightgowns after retrieving my serger from timeout, but the one thing I tired to make for myself went terribly wrong. Some day I’ll finish it and post here, but I can’t bring myself to work on it at the moment.

And while I love a light weight woven summer dress, I found I was reaching for my knit dresses much more frequently. Who wants to iron when it is 90F in your house? So off I went to find enough yardage for a sleeveless summer dress, but I quickly found I only had one dress quantity washed and ready to go. Boo! So I pulled my sole pre-washed fabric, tossed it in the dryer to get the wrinkles out, and started cutting.

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What emerged was another Washington Dress hack. You may remember I made several long sleeve versions last winter, and thankfully the sleeveless version is just as nice to wear. With binding around the armholes, it feels a lot like one of my favorite tank tops from Target only dress-ified.

The process of making this wasn’t without drama. First I forgot to cut the back on the fold, so there is a big seam running down the center back and that also means the back is about 1/2 inch narrower than it should be.

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Because I used a 100% cotton knit (Alison Glass) there wasn’t enough stretch to the neckband as drafted. I had to cut out my first attempt and try again. The lack of stretch is also why the whole top feels a little more snug than usual and the armholes are a tad on the tight side. For the next version I’m going to pull out my favorite tank top and compare the armholes to see what adjustments might work.

Now I’m a little sad I let this fabric sit for so many months! It was originally purchased to make a Tiramisu, but lately I’m finding I like sleeveless dresses a lot more than short sleeves. Also I knew I was going to need to adjust the Tiramisu pattern, but I did not have the brain space to tackle pattern adjustments at the moment. Oh well!

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And because I always like to see how fabrics wear throughout the day, here is another photo taken at 6pm on a hot hot day. Fabric held up incredible well. Way better than I excepted. I thought it might stretch out quite a lot by the end of the day, but it held shape really nicely!

My little quilt shop is going out of business, so last weekend I picked up another dress quantity of Alison Glass knits in Peony to make a second version. This only took about 2 hours to make including cutting it out and dealing with all my errors. Sergers for the win! I stuck mine right in front of our wall mounted A/C unit so I was nice and cool. I serged all the main seams and only had to sweat at my regular machine to attach the facings and do the top stitching. Yay!

(#photobylu, my 4 year old was the only person available to take photos, so apologizes on their quality.)

Summer and Guiding

Oh hi! I guess I disappeared for longer than I expected. Mostly we’ve been busy with a staycation, a family reunion, and a new job for my husband, but yesterday I spent my afternoon volunteering so here I am to talk about a dress I actually made last summer.
As I’ve mentioned in previous posts, I volunteer at Heritage Square, a museum in Los Angeles that resembles a Victorian neighborhood. I’ve been there for nearly 6 years and I have to say I really enjoy it. Once a month I give tours and at first I felt like such an impostor, but then I realized how good it has been for my public speaking skills and how much it has become like a second home.

The pretty costumes don’t hurt either.

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So here is my summer tour dress!

Like I mentioned I actually made this last summer. I spent months obsessing over which pattern and fabric to use only to finish the dress right before the weather turned cool. Whoops!

That’s the hard part of making historical garments…the self doubt. I am far from an expert. When I first started volunteering I had no clue. Polyester everything because it was what I could afford. Then I went and had 2 babies and nothing fit anymore.

So a year ago I decided to make something simple, summery, and easy that I could wear in the long hot summer season. Also a dress that didn’t use dozens of yards of fabric so I could afford to make it.

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I also opted for something nursing friendly.

Enter the 1912 kimono dress pattern from Sense & Sensibility Patterns. It was everything I was looking for. Simple to sew, easy to wear, and with easy nursing access.

And after sweating, stressing, and asking a few people for help I settled on using Robert Kaufman lawn as the main fabric.

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One year later I am happy with those choices. It took me so long to make that I skipped the nursing option. Otherwise there are a few fit issues, like it’s a little big through the upper back and the sleeves are an awkward length, but it is so easy to wear.

As you can see I added yards of insertion lace to make the pattern more like the lingerie dresses that were so popular through the 1910s.

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I also used 2 colors of fabric, an ivory and a soft peach. Both were common colors to wear 100 years ago.

And confession…I don’t wear Edwardian underwear underneath my dress. I’m sure historical clothing experts notice. I should wear a corset underneath. I know I know. I just don’t own one for the right time period so for now I skip it and only wear a chemise (and modern underwear). Eventually I’ll buy one because having a few different corsets would be helpful, but they are also costly to purchase with custom measurements. Oh yeah…I guess I should maybe make one? I’ll mull it over for next summer.

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And here is my dress last summer with a much younger Charlie! You might notice the hat looks different. That’s because this spring I tried my hand at millinery. I took this same hat and redecorated it to match the dress. Many new skills in this outfit!!! I also received some new shoes for Christmas that coordinate perfectly.

So now I ponder what I’d like to make next. I should probably make something a mourning dress. We do an event every Halloween that explores the mourning customs of the Victorian era and my old outfit is super tight. At least for that one I have the underwear!

Beach Babies

Nothing like a wave of 110F+ weather to tell you it is officially summer! Until 2 weeks ago I’d never ever made a bathing suit. Now I’ve made 3!

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Yep, we all match. I started with my bathing suit then had enough fabric left over to make each of my girls a suit too! No losing these two at the pool.

I wrote up a long post for the Curvy Sewing Collective all about my suit (It can be found here), so over here I’m going to talk about the kid suits and how my tankini has held up to real life.

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Lu has pretty much asked to wear hers every single day. “It has a skirt momma!” A dream come true to for my girly girl. The pattern is the Sun n’ Fun Swimsuit and Leotard from Peekaboo Patterns. I’m still kind of mad at them for a shady deal at Quiltcon this year, but I put my anger aside because they had a ton of cute kids swimsuit options.

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To add a skirt I roughly followed the tutorial from Sewlovele. I had SO MUCH FABRIC left from my swimsuit that cutting out a full circle skirt for each kid was no problem. In fact, I think the was Sewlovele constructs the pattern is better than the Peekaboo directions. It leaves a seam free finish to the inside that is much more comfortable to wear.

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The fabric is probably this one from Michael Levine’s. I bought it in person so I’m not 100% sure. It is super drapey and lovely to wear. Though I did line all our suits in power mesh because that’s what I had on hand. For fun I used the reverse side for the main body of both kid bathing suits and the shiny side for the skirts and bow in the back. It’s hard to see both in pictures and in person, but still a detail that makes me happy.

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The downside to lining the suits with power mesh is they aren’t as stretchy. Lu’s is a size 4T and Charlie’s is a size 18 months. Both kids are just growing into those sizes, but the bathing suits perfectly fit right now. I might need to make them each a new suit by the end of summer if they grow at all.

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We all have worn out new bathing suits to the pool with great success. Then today we went to the beach to beat the heat and the suits held up well to the sun and the sand too!

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Including mine. When I wrote my pattern review I was kind of sad I hadn’t made a bikini. I feel like this suit hides my waist (and smallest part). But then today wearing my tankini to the beach I was able to fully appreciate the coverage Lisette 6360 provides. Mostly that I didn’t need to sunscreen my very very pale midsection. I also felt really good walking the beach and not like I needed to hide my body. I don’t generally feel that way at the pool when I’m wrangling two kids, but a beach full of college co-eds is a different story.

Now I have  conquered making swimsuits I feel like I could sewing anything! What should I make next?