Fifi Pajamas!

Happy Summer Solstice! It is suddenly quite hot here in Southern California. I can deal with the heat during the day, but is sure is uncomfortable trying to sleep when it is still 77F in my bedroom at 11pm. Ugh! Not looking forward to the long hot summer ahead of us.

Pajamas are one of the items I rarely make for myself. The main reason I sew is to have well fitted clothing for my non-standard shape. In pajamas the fit is less important. On the other hand, I’m getting tired of buying nightgowns and pajamas sets in XL or XXL to fit my bottom while my top half needs 2 sizes smaller.

Recently I took a dive into my pattern stash and found Tilly and the Button’s Fifi. I actually made a nightgown version in January 2016 as a gift for my sister. It turned out really cute! And as luck would have it, I’d done an FBA on the pattern cups back then so all I had to do was trace off my size and get to sewing. Hooray!

So cute, right? I ended up grading between sizes, the top is a 6/7 and the bottom is a 7/8. The only change I made to the pattern aside from the FBA was to swap the bias straps for fold over elastic (FOE) instead. That was a lesson learned when I made my sister’s version. If you look closely at the pattern photos you can see the bend where the bias goes from edging to strap. Drove me bonkers when I realized that was considered normal for the Fifi. I like the FOE much better. The back of the Fifi top is a tad large, but with the elastic gently gathering the edge, the back feels nice and snug. I also much prefer the FOE straps for their supportive yet flexible hold. Support! It is sort of important!

I’m still torn on the shorts. Really out of my comfort zone, but I do like them for pajamas. Less twisting around than a nightgown and helps with the summer thigh rub. They maybe look tight in the photo, but they don’t feel tight in person and if anything the waist elastic could be a tad more snug.

Tilly doesn’t recommend using fabric with a directional pattern. It’s a fair warning as the top is cut on the bias and the shorts are cut on the grainline. Originally I’d bought this Cotton + Steel rayon with a Cashmerette Springfield in mind. It was part of my epic Hart’s Fabric shopping spree in early May and I’d had my eye on this print for months. But after I made my first Springfield I knew I didn’t want a ton of them. Just 1-2 would fill the gap in my wardrobe and the crane fabric had just exactly the amount of yardage needed for pajamas. Sold! The pattern is so busy, that I don’t think the direction is super noticeable.

I’ve worn this Fifi set a few times now and I do really like the top a lot. The fit is exactly where I want it, but the shorts are just not holding up like I’d hoped. They feel great the first night, but then the fabric stretches and bunches and the crotch doesn’t sit where I’d like for another wearing. Ultimately I want to wear my pajamas twice before washing. I’m on the search for a different shorts pattern, so if you have an option that is free or not too expensive, please let me know! I’m tempted to try the City Gym Shorts, but they only go up to a 46″ hip and I need a 48″ hip.

Closet Clear Out – Summer 2017

With the change in the seasons it was time to clean out my closet and say “Goodbye!” to the clothing that no longer made me happy. Some were duds, but others had just plain worn out.

First up is this hounds tooth dress from October 2016. There is nothing wrong with it. The fit is good, but there is just too much of the pattern. For now the dress goes back to my fabric stash to become something else. Maybe I’ll just lower the neckline and shorten it. I might even have some scraps leftover and it will become kids clothes. No matter the outcome, this fabric is likely to get used since it is in great shape.

img_8048

This summer dress was barely worn since last August. It is perfect for the weekend, but sadly the last time it was worn (Saturday) I discovered the fabric has a hole. Maybe I’ll save this for kids clothes too since the colors are so fun.

img_7700

Next is the blouse I made last May in hopes of finding something that would look nice tucked in. However it felt like I was wearing a scrub shirt so it had to go.

IMG_6572

And now here are some favorites that were just plain tired. This wrap dress is one of the first knit items I ever made for myself. It looks great, but the fabric looks sad. Art Gallery Knits are awesome to work with, but the darker colors look worn out really quickly because the back of the fabric is white. Every time you wash the jersey a little more white fuzz collects on the dark print. Boo.

IMG_6527

Next is another navy printed jersey dress from March 2016 that suffered the same problem. This time it is Robert Kaufman jersey, but I was more forgiving for the navy and green print since I bought it for a whole $3 a yard at an over stock store. Plus I cut a hole in the fabric when I was sewing it together. Now that I own more clothes I can allow myself to get rid of this. But gosh I love this dress.

IMG_5182

And last up is the kitty dress from December 2015. I’m really sad to see it go, but the fabric looks just awful. So many pills. So many. This knit came from Andover Fabrics and I’m super disappointed it wore so poorly. I’d hoped to keep on wearing it for a long time, but no such luck.

IMG_5121

On the plus side, now there is room for shiny new wardrobe items that will be made with my current skill set and taste level! Not all bad even if it is hard to say goodbye to the some favorite makes.

Ngaio Blouse

I have a new favorite pattern! The Ngaio Blouse was released by Scroop Patterns in early May and it has quickly become my favorite item to wear to work. I’ve actually made two!

 

I have a full review on the Curvy Sewing Collective, but I wanted to say a few words here about the how it feels to wear this blouse.

The more I sew quality garments, the pickier I’ve become when it comes to buying patterns. Styles really need to stand out or be really easily hacked to fit my retro-ish style. Scroop patterns fit into the first category for me. The Ngaio Blouse is really really wearable and professional. It is feminine, but not juvenile and that is a really hard balance to find. I don’t want to feel like I’m wearing a costume to work.

Ngaio is also really easy to wear tucked in. The darts at the back hip keep the blouse neatly placed while leaving the perfect about of volume above the waist. No other blouse I’ve worn has stayed in place so nicely.

And they feel so wonderful. The white version is a cotton lawn and even though it is slightly tight through the shoulders, it wears well. I don’t remember the last time I owned a white blouse (maybe college?), but it is so very versatile. It even coordinates with this awesome, but never worn skirt I made last year.

img_9962

And I love the rayon version. This dusty lavender rayon batiste is light as air. I thought I’d lose my mind trying to cut out the pattern. Every breathe would move the fabric, but sewing it was super easy and it pressed perfectly.

img_9997

The Ngaio Blouse and Fantail skirt combination is now my equivalent of a power suit for important dates at work. It feels fantastic to be cool, put together, and have that little swish follow me while I walk. Perfect outfit.

And lastly, I wanted to give Leimomi Oakes a huge shout out for including a sleeveless and sleeved option for the Ngaio blouse. Not only did she include both options, but she provided a different armscye for each version. That attention to detail is something missing from a lot of patterns, both Indies and the Big 4. It is one of those touches that has me eagerly awaiting what comes next.

Navy Fantail Skirt

There I was standing in the aisle of Harts Fabrics. My mom and I took a morning trip to Santa Cruz before heading back my sister’s wedding festivities. The morning hadn’t gone well. I’d promised my daughters some fun, but nothing was working out right. I was annoyed. I was mad. I was short tempered. My children were running in circles around the displays. But gosh darn it, I was going to find some pretty fabric.

Thankfully my mom started entertaining my older daughter by looking for some last minute wedding supplies and I was left with one child who we much better behaved once her partner in crime was occupied.

I wandered the aisles and kept coming back to the same roll of fabric. It was navy, it was twill, and it was rayon. Gorgeous and reasonably priced. 3 yards came home with me.

img_9952

I had no idea what to make with this lovely fabric, but it did fit in with my capsule wardrobe color scheme. I just had to pick a pattern.

img_9953

And then it hit me, Scroop’s Fantail Skirt. Could I make it with 3 yards of fabric? Yes! It even takes less than 3 yards of 60″ wide fabric. And I totally love the finished skirt. Look at those lovely pleats in the back. It has all the movement of an old fashioned skirt with the slim silhouette of modern clothing.

img_9955

Such fun to swish around in. The only bummer is the fit is more slim than I expected. I made a size 42 graded out to a 44 at the hip. That should have given me plenty of ease, but yet it clings slightly more than I’d wanted. At least it isn’t too tight to wear, but next time I might size up a tad depending on the fabric.

img_9950

But really, I don’t think I could have found a better fabric and pattern combination. The rayon twill drapes perfectly and this navy color will have me looking nice and professional even on the warmest summer day!

Sadie, Sadie, Married Lady

Last weekend my baby sister got married! I was so touched when she asked me to be her one and only bridesmaid. She was my one and only and I thought is was really sweet that she returned the gesture. It was the most gorgeous and wild wedding.

But the real question is…what did I wear?

I really struggled with that question. The wedding took place at a Burning Man affiliated event. Most people were camping. There was belly dancing, swords, fire, many unicorn costumes, and the best man was dressing as a wizard.

My first thought was to make this stunning Simplicity pattern I’ve been lusting after since November. I wanted deep red silk to coordinate with the groom’s tartan. But then I kept thinking about the camping, the tents, the fairground bathrooms, and wrangling two little girls while wearing floor length silk. Also, where am I going to wear this again? If I’m spending money on silk I’d better be able to wear it more than once. Is scarlet a strange color for a May wedding?

Okay, plan B. After thinking on it for a few weeks I kept coming back to some fabric I already had in my stash. 2 yards of grey lawn and 3 yards of floral lawn. Both from Heather Ross’s latest collection Sleeping Porch. I’d bought them for a summer dress, but why couldn’t I use them for the wedding and then keep on wearing the dress afterwards?

The deal was sealed when I found an inexpensive hot pink petticoat online. Add fun colored tights and I had a fun kind of costume-like dress to wear to the wedding.

It was also a chance to up my pattern making skills. I wanted something sort of 1950s, but not too 1950s. Something dancer like, but not a leotard. I think the end result is nice. I rotated my darts into the center front and split them to make pleats. With a v-front I think the nod to vintage is there. What do you think? Anyone interested in a tutorial on how to do this?

A circle skirt finished the look and gave plenty of room for the petticoat to poof. I wish I’d had about 2-3 more inches of yardage as I had to make the skirt just that touch shorter to get it to fit on 3 yards.

And boy was I surprised to find a historical house on the fairgrounds. No tours (boo!), but I did get to wander around outside and take these wonderful photos.

Today I wore my pretty floral dress again without the petticoat and I love it even more like this. So perfect for a spring day!

Sloper Series @ Curvy Sewing Collective

If you are interested in how to make a sloper, I have a new post over at the Curvy Sewing Collective! It is the first part in a new series I’m writing for the site. The goal is to show how to use a sloper to design your own patterns, recreate patterns that don’t come in your size, or alter patterns to fit.

And just for giggles I tried on some ready to wear dresses this weekend. I haven’t purchased a woven (non-maternity) dress in 5 years and now I remember why!

The pink dress is the smallest size in Ashley Nell Tipton’s line for JCPenney and was several inches too large though the bust even though by the size chart the OX should have fit in the bust and waist and too tight in the hip. The lemon dress is from Liz Claiborne and the size chart put me in a 14 bust/16 waist/18 hip. I picked the 16 to try and you can see that as the size chart predicted it is too large in the bust, but going down a size would have meant this dress is too small everywhere else.

So while sewing takes up a good chunk of my free time the results are well worth it! And with a sloper you can make clothes even more customized without playing the retail sizing game. I call that a win!

Easter 2017

Yay Easter! A holiday with few expectations of gifts but lots of potential for adorable dresses. Less that 3 weeks ago I had zero plans to make new Easter dresses this year. Surely I could skip it and have the girls wear something from their drawer.

Wrong!

While looking for flower girl dress fabric at Michael Levine’s I spotted a lovely small scale floral lawn out of the corner of my eye and the next thing I knew I’d had 3 yards cut. I’m so so glad I impulse purchased this fabric. (No longer on the ML website, but available here.)

img_9446What a couple of silly sisters! Don’t they look adorable? In a total reversal of personalities Charlie ended up posing for all the pictures while Lu sulked, but thankfully I’d captured Lu’s dress the day before when she was in a more willing mood.

img_9369img_9370

For Lu’s dress I used Olive + S’s Library dress pattern. I’d owned it for years and never made it. What a shame! It went together so beautifully and had plenty of potential for color combinations. I had some white lawn in my stash I almost used for the collar. White collars are such a classic choice for a little girl’s dress, but I went ahead and used the floral print so the only trim is the pink piping along the midriff.

I really love Oliver + S patterns, but the sizing it always a challenge. Lu is quite slim and tall so her measurements put her in a 6-12 months at the bust and a size 5 for length. I went with something in the middle, a size 3 with 2 inches of extra length on the skirt. This seems to have worked pretty well. A tad large through the shoulders, but not terribly so. The pattern I own stops at a size 4 so for now I might keep adding length to the smaller sizes until I really need to buy the next size grouping.

img_9371

And Lu really liked her dress. “See my skirt!” She was super happy to wear it two days in a row, Saturday for the museum’s annual Fashion Show and Sunday for Easter.

Charlie got a haircut on Good Friday so now we can actually see her face instead of just a mess of hair. The cut also lets her curls really come out!

img_9400img_9406

Charlie’s dress was also made with an Oliver + S pattern, this time the Family Reunion Pattern. I’ve actually made this one before when Lucy was not quite 2 and I made the 18-24 month size then.

Xmas 2013

As you can see both sisters have suffered the wide neckline of this dress, though Charlie is nearly 2 1/2 and wearing the 18-24 size. This one must just run wide because Charlie wasn’t that much smaller than the size chart. She usually wears a size 18 months or 2T depending on the cut of the clothing and I almost made the size 2 Family Reunion. Thankfully I did size down so it wasn’t enormous.

img_9417

The pattern doesn’t call for trim around the yoke, but I adding pink piping just for fun and I’m so glad I did! Isn’t she a doll? This is the look she gets when she sees her dad. Such joy!

She also tested out her modeling skills to adorable results.

img_9410img_9404

Being the second child means Charlie just doesn’t get as many new things, but I was so pleased to make her this new dress that she should be able to wear all summer long.

Lastly, not to be outdone by the girls John wore his new hand knit socks for Easter.

img_9434

And I have no photographic evidence of my own outfit, but I wore the butterfly dress I made for Easter 2016 when I missed the festivities due to injury and illness.

With Easter complete I must go full speed into preparations for my sister’s wedding. 3 dresses to go!