Dartmouth Double Take

Yay! I had unexpected sewing time! Boo! It was because of a sick kid. She’s totally fine, but Lu and I have both been limping along with our colds and adding vaccines on top of her cold meant a miserable little kid for a day or two. I wasn’t terribly sad to stay home and have a little down time for myself. Plus I came home last Wednesday to find a new pattern in my mail box. So nice I made it twice!

This is Cashmerette’s new pattern the Dartmouth Top!

So far Jenny’s knit patterns have worked really well for me, so I was pleased to see her come out with a fixed wrap top. I totally love wearing this style on the weekends or as a pajama top. So comfy, but not quite as casual as a typical t-shirt pattern. I also think they work particularly well on a figure like mine with a full bust, narrow waist, and full hips.

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My first crack at the pattern was using this heavier weight cotton/lycra fabric from Sahara Fabrics. After shrinkage in the wash I only had a 46 inch length to work with and I could just barely fit all the pieces in the yardage if I used the short sleeve and cut the neck band in 3 pieces.

Overall I really like this shirt. I really rarely wear separates, but on Friday I had a mammogram after my doctor found some thicker tissue in my breast. Having this new, fun, and colorful shirt to wear really lifted my spirits. It was also a lot more practical than my usual dresses. (And thankfully my boobs got a clear bill of health!)

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The Dartmouth Top wasn’t quite perfect straight out of the envelope. Besides grading between sizes (14/16/18) I made no alterations. But the front hem was a tad bit on the tick side since there is 4 layers of jersey there. Sure, it would have been easier if I’d used a thinner knit, but 4 layers is still a lot. I’m also going to need to do a sway back alteration of future versions. I think Cashmerette patterns usually have a sway back built in, but I need more.

So we had the feverish 5 year old, my cold, my boob testing, and oh did I mentioned pink eye for the 2 year old? Yeah. It’s been one of those weeks. On top of all of that my husband and I also had our first weekend away from the kids (shout out to my parents for babysitting)! It was an awesome weekend away for a friend’s wedding and then I came home and made a Dartmouth Dress.

As soon as I put on my finished top version I knew I had to attempt a dress version. The hip curve perfectly covered my widest part so I wouldn’t even need to add fullness. Sweet!

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I dove into my stash and pulled out this ugly ass plaid jersey. It was purchased in one of those Girl Charlee Knit Fixes where you get a bunch of ugly fabric for cheap and is some sort of thin cotton jersey/mystery fiber blend. I’d guess polyester. Basically I hate it so much that I figured if the dress was a total fail then I’d have a soft and lightweight nightgown.

But it wasn’t a total fail even though I made it into a mock wrap.

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I spent all weekend mulling over the ways to make the Dartmouth have one layer below the waist and finally determined I’d trace off just the shoulder and see how it worked. I also shortened the neckband.

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This is still going in the pajama pile since it is thin and needs a sway back fix, but my experiment worked pretty darn well! I even got the plaids reasonably matched up despite having just 2 yards of material.

Now tomorrow I pack away my machine while we have family visiting, but I think I’m going to pull out more of my ugly mystery knits to make up a few more of these as a nightgown while I play around with some minor alterations to the pattern because the Dartmouth Top is a fun and simple sew!

Rayon Appleton

Whew! Time is flying by. The first draft of the post was written when I was feeling worn down by the news, but a great weekend has boosted my spirits!  Today I’m here to share a dress I finished back in January. A beautiful reminder of our fantastic family vacation to San Jose for Thanksgiving.

At this point my winter wardrobe is in pretty good shape. I have several skater style dresses, some more casual knit dresses, a couple of skirts/sweater sets, and a couple of wrap dresses. That’s enough to see me through our short and mild cold season. But I couldn’t help squeaking in one more Appleton Dress before spring arrives.

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I love this dress so very much. After trying 4 different fabrics with the Appleton pattern rayon is hands down my favorite. It just has such great fluidity and drape. It is so smoooooooooth. I also love the way it feels against my skin.

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That said I was picky about the rayon I choose. I made sure it was a decent weight so it wouldn’t be too sheer. Also went with a dark color. Rayon will show every wrinkle and seam in your undergarments. The deep plum color helps mask those issues.

This version also has a lot of vertical stretch so everything falls a little longer than my other versions. I don’t mind, but it did put the hip shaping lower than I anticipated. Oh well, it is very minor and doesn’t detract from the overall look.

I purchased this fabric at Britex in San Francisco while my husband and I were on a rare childless outing. Here it is modeled with my new spectator pumps. Such a fun outfit to wear to work and shake away those winter doldrums.

And now back to the work week, but lots of fun stuff coming up in the next few weeks!

Happy Birthday to Me!

I squeaked out one more dress for 2016! I really didn’t think I had the time, but the fabric was washed, the pattern was something I’d made before, and I had a couple free evenings! Plus my birthday was falling in a pocket of cooler than typical weather.

This is Cashermette’s Appleton pattern in some gorgeous green merino wool jersey from The Fabric Store. I’d purchased the yardage last December on my first visit to the Los Angeles location, but then I started to doubt my ability to sew with it!

I’m glad I waited. This past year I have learned a lot about sewing knits on my Janome. It doesn’t have the lightening bolt stitch so I’ve had to repair many of my dresses as the various test stitches have popped with wear. This jersey is so fragile that I don’t think the seams would hold up to the wrong stitch. As I’ve mentioned before I now use something like baseball stitch and it work really really well. Then I use a faux coverstitch for the hems. I own a serger, but I enjoy sewing on my regular machine. I also don’t have a dedicated sewing space, so it is frankly easier to have one machine out all the time than swap them out with every project.

The finished dress is a breeze to wear. Since my birthday is so close to Christmas this dress will do double duty for both events and keeps me nice and warm as well. The only negative thing about it is the fabric is sheer in photos taken with flash. So I’ll be sure to wear some good undergarments!

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!

Lovely Linen

Nothing says the end of summer like finishing a sun dress on Labor Day!

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But that is exactly how I spent my weekend when I wasn’t focused on potty training our toddler.

I love this dress. After so much frustration with getting something to fit I am thrilled I gave it one more try before moving onto another pattern.

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This is a mash up on my heavily modified Gertie bodice with the gored skirt from Cashmerette’s Upton Dress. When I made my Liberty dress a few weeks ago I made the mistake of lowering the bust darts way too much. This time I did all the same alterations only I lowered the bust dart 1/2 inch. Such a difference.

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Still not 100% perfect, but oh so close. Once I tried it on I had to take it in 1/2 inch at the under arm. No big deal and easy to adjust on the pattern piece.

But damn this fits my bust well.

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And in the back I got the back adjustment just right in the upper back. But then I forgot to re-add the width to the waist. Whoops! Also easily added to the pattern piece for next time. So you can see a bit of pulling there.

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The fabric is a linen/cotton blend from The Fabric Store. I purchased it right after the Upton pattern came out, but then it sat in timeout while I battled my fit issues. The fabric is quite open in weave so I lined the entire dress with some bright apple green Free Spirit voile I purchased when my local fabric store went out of business. The lining took just 2.5 yards, so I still have another 3 yards of voile for another project.

Thankfully here in Southern California we’ll have warm weather for another 2-3 months so still plenty of time to wear this beauty through fall!

 

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.

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.)