But You Don’t Even Like Cats Dress

Back in early November I came home from my local quilt shop with 3 yards of Lizzy House’s Hits Parade jersey in a cat print. As I’m showing my husband he blurts out, “But you don’t even like cats!” Ha! He has a point. I’m not much of a cat person, but that’s because I’m allergic to them. In fact I think most cats are quite cute, I just can’t get near them. But dang I love this fabric like, whoa. It’s so fun. Kitties!

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The fabric sat on the counter in the kitchen for weeks while I worked on various holiday projects and that whole Victorian get up until Sunday when I finally had the head space to tackle sewing math. Math is fun!

The resulting dress is 1 part Washington Dress, 1 part hack, and 1 part self drafted. I am so freaking excited about how it turned out! It looks just like the dance dresses I wore and loved back in the 1990s.

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So here’s the break down on how I turned the Washington Dress into more of a skater style dress.

First off I had to tackle the fit issues I encountered when I made my original Washington. Straight from the envelope I have two issues. The bodice is too short so I traced out the pattern, sliced along the lengthen here line, and then added 1 inch in length. I also took out some of the fullness I was getting between the armhole and the bust with a small dart. Both were easy alterations to make and I’ll be sure to do them whenever I make the Washington bodice in the future.

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Next up was figuring out how to achieve that sweet 90s style ruched neckline. I knew I could turn to Tilly and the Button’s Agnes pattern. It is so very cute and I love the style, but I really didn’t like the idea of purchasing a pattern just to look at one pattern piece. Especially since I’d achieved such a great fit with Washington. So instead I decided to try working it out myself and if it looked terrible I would purchase Agnes.

To alter my existing pattern, first I traced out the front bodice onto some swedish tracing paper (love that stuff). Then I lowered the neckline. I knew if I started the ruching as high up as the original neckline it would look kind of odd. I think I lowered the neckline about 2 inches and re-drew the curve. Before sewing the bodice pieces together I cut a piece of 3.5 inch long 1/4 inch elastic and stitched it down the center front, pulling the elastic along the way. Worked out pretty perfectly. I also cut the neckband piece to be longer and accommodate the lower neckline. I usually forget this part, so I’m glad I actually remembered this time!

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For the skirt I turned to my handy reference book Patternmaking for Fashion Design. Drafting my own patterns always makes me feel like a total badass, but this book makes drafting 1/4, 1/2, 3/4, and whole circle skirts so easy. I measured the waist of the bodice and then looked at Patternmaking’s handy chart for figuring out the waist radius. The next part was the only hiccup in the whole process. The first skirt I drafted was a 3/4 circle. I wanted a lot of fullness. But it was not to be. The kitty fabric wasn’t wide enough for me to cut a knee length skirt and still have the kitties facing the right direction. So I flipped back to the chart and drafted a 1/2 circle instead. No big deal. The skirt still has a decent amount of fullness and now I won’t have to worry quite as much about accidentally flashing people if a breeze comes along and lifts my skirt.

Spin skirt spin!!! Weeeee!!!!!!!

The fabric was really nice to work with. It is thin and not terribly warm, but also didn’t curl up as much as other jerseys I’ve used. I only wish it came in more adult prints. I love the kitties, but I’m not quite sure its work appropriate. I work at an arts school, but even they might find a cat dress a little much. We’ll see. I’ll probably have to wear it at least once to see my boss and her friend get excited by the kitties!!!!!

I’ve already made another one of these bodices as a tester and it turned out so nicely that I want to add a skirt. Just need to pick out fabric and I’ll have two of these beauties. I’m also glad to have found more use for the Washington pattern. It’s nice, but also very distinctive and by switching up the neckline and skirts I’ll get a ton of use out of it.

 

 

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Washington Dress

This week I managed to finish up my first version of the Washington Dress from Cashmerette! And of course I couldn’t be a reasonable person and make it as shown on the pattern. Oh no, of course not. I had this idea of making it drop waisted and as you can see it was only sort of successful.

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Pros:

  • It is so so so comfortable. I wore it all day and it was so great. Like wearing pajamas.
  • Now that I’ve hacked it I know what I did wrong.
  • I used random fabric from my stash so this was a low cost way to test my ideas.
  • My husband really liked this dress and thought it was very interesting with the curve towards the side of the hip.

Cons:

  • I think I don’t need the hollow chest adjustment like I’d thought. I need to adjust the armholes instead like Emily originally commented on my Appleton. Doing the hollow chest alteration didn’t work. Oh well.
  • The bodice was drafted is too short. I’ve noticed this on my Appleton’s too. The waist is too high and I’m not even close to the amount of negative ease the pattern suggests. Maybe that means the dress isn’t anchoring at my waist, but next time I’ll be sure to add length.
  • By hacking it together I un-did the sway back adjustment. That was a terrible idea. I had a huge amount of pooling at the back. I took 4 inches total in two darts. It helped, but not quite enough.

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With all that said, I think lengthening the bodice would have fixed some of my fit woes since everything below my bust is sitting a little too high. I am contemplating adding a contrasting waist band to see if that helps.

The fabric used is Valori Well’s Quill Interlock. It’s out of print now, but dang. I wish I had 3 more yards. I love this print so much. My friend gave me 2 yards which was plenty for this long sleeve top. The skirt fabric is some mystery poly blend I’ve owned for who knows how long.

My final word on the Washington Pattern for now is…uh follow Jenny’s directions? I’ll be making another one soon, but I have to take stock of my fabric first and probably buy something new. I’d really like to try it in a solid knit top, but my only dress quantity on hand doesn’t have enough recovery for this pattern. So I’ll add it to my list for 2016 sewing. In the mean time I’ll be wearing this version with this perfectly matching cardigan and enjoying the comfort. When in doubt…put on a cardigan. It covers all kinds of fit woes.

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My Very Victorian Christmas 2015

Heritage Square is a museum where I try to volunteer at least once a month. It’s a museum that has several Victorian homes and usually I lead tours. However once I year I get to pretend I have a tiny bit of acting talent and spend one weekend performing in the Lamplight program.

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This year I was Virginia, a woman in my early twenties (ha!) who had just been engaged to Martin, a man who literally swept me off my feet. We perform a scene every 20 minutes from 4pm to nearly 9pm. It is exhausting. It is fun. It is a good excuse to make a new pretty outfit.

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Welcome to my home!

This year I was in the Hale house. It is the most restored home and quite lush inside! It’s also incredibly creepy and I think haunted. But at least no ghost sightings during our weekend! Just a few odd footsteps.

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And I made my whole outfit (except the corset)! Whew! It was a lot of sewing for a few weeks, but a little bit each night makes it easy to accomplish. I ended up making a corset cover, blouse, and skirt. Plus refashioned two petticoats. Thankfully I made a light colored chemise this summer so it was one less items to churn out in November.

The blouse came from an out of print pattern (Butterick 3417). The largest size I had was too small, but I did adjustments to the front, back, and sleeves to size it up a few sizes. I over compensated a bit, but no worries! It fits the style of the time. The fabric came from a new favorite shop, Renaissance Fabrics. I purchased the last of some dimity and fully lined the blouse with cotton lawn since this was for a winter night time event and the weather is often quite chilly. Then I finished off the blouse with lace from a fellow volunteer (thank you Kristine!) and some buttons a fellow knitted sent to me (thank you Liz!).

Really I owe Kristine a huge thank you for helping me with fabric selection. I am a novice when it comes to historical accuracy and she held my hand through the hold process.

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The skirt fabric also came from Renaissance Fabrics. It is their well priced cotton velveteen and was a dream to work with. Washed beautifully, a fabulous garment weight, and heavy enough that it didn’t need a full lining. I used Truly Victorian’s 1898 Flared Skirt pattern which was borrowed from another fellow volunteer. It eats up fabric (6 frickin’ yards), but was also simple to follow. The error I made was forgetting I’d be corseted when I cut the waistband. My waist corsets down 4 or 5 inches so the waist was much too big. Eventually I’ll re-do it.

The skirt trim was a light bulb idea. I wanted to trim the skirt with something I could sew right into the seam instead of having to hand sew to the velveteen. I ended up using Robert Kaufman’s Mammoth Flannel but on the bias. Then added the same lace as the blouse. So simple. The I added snap on black silk bows as the finishing touch. I just love this skirt so much. It was a joy to wear.

The weekend went by in a flash and just like that the whole program was over. But now I have a few new pieces I’ll get some wear out on my usual weekend tours.

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Happy Lamplight!

 

 

Man Sweater!

Last week Amy Herzog released new capabilities for her Custom Fit knitting pattern software and I was lucky enough to beta test this fall!

The new features allow you to make patterns for men and children in addition to the women’s features already used heavily in my own knitting. I am thrilled with the sweater I knit for my husband. I’ve been promising him a boring grey sweater for four years. But part of what held me back from knitting it was the lack of pattern for the yarn he had selected.

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Now that is no longer an issue!

It turned out so well. The ease they figure into the garment is very different than the ease for my own clothes. This is a straight silhouette sweater which means it has no shaping in the body. Perfect for my husband whose chest and hip measurement are the same. With an average fit it has about 4 inches of positive ease at both places.

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My only negative is that I think the sleeves have too much ease, but I will say my husband thinks it is fine. So maybe just a preference. It is the kind of measurement easy to tweak in the software if desired.

The other bummer is my row gauge was different between my swatch and the sweater so the length of the finished object is too long. Wholly my fault.

Most importantly my husband really likes his new sweater and has been wearing it all the time as our weather has turned cool. See the wrinkles from keeping it in his car so he can access its warmth whenever he needs it! He even wore it to work so he sent me this action shot! Makes me happy to see the hours of work I put into knitting for him are so appreciated.

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And yes it is a warm sweater. I originally planned to use Harrisville Shetland in the color Sea Mist. I purchased the yarn back when I was pregnant with Lu. But since I had to knit this sweater in less than a month there was no way I could bust out a fingering weight man sweater in that short a time. Instead we looked at yarns together and settled on Quince & Co. Chickadee in Kumlien’s Gull. Which I’m now thinking I hope I told him the sweater isn’t machine washable…

In other news, I have more to share! So I hope to post up a couple times before the end of the year. In the mean time I’ll get back to binging on the soundtrack to Hamilton. Thank you Emily for tuning me in! Now I’ll have to watch for the tour to hit LA!