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.

img_7562

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.

img_7560

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.

img_7564

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!

img_7556

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.

img_7373

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.

img_7369

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!

img_7387

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.)

Upton 2.0

This week I decided to tackle the Upton Dress again. I thought my last version was too big so this time I went down one full size to a 12 in the shoulders/bust and a 14 waist/hip. But before I talk about the outcome, can we admire my fabric choice?

I looooooooove this fabric, a cotton sateen I bought on sale at JoAnn’s. It’s not often that I find something so wonderful in that big box filled with disgruntled employees. In fact I’d been all ready to compare JoAnn’s to purgatory, but then I had the best visit I’ve ever had. I found this fabric, the customer services was down right friendly, and they actually had almost everything I needed in stock.

Anyways this is a stretch sateen. It was marked hand wash/dry on low and I almost passed it by because I’m not hand washing my dresses. But it was inexpensive and I decided it wouldn’t be a huge loss if I washed it and ruined the fabric. Thankfully it survived the maiden journey just fine.

img_6877

And the dress turned out quite lovely, but I have a couple grumbles. This is the smallest size through the shoulders and still feels wide. I know others loved the open neckline, but its maybe a touch too much for me. It is still a hair too wide in the back.

My other grumble is the skirt feels much narrower than 64 3/8″ through the hip. I roughly measured and it came up more like 58″, but I’m not going to stress about it. As you can see in the photos it looks good. But it feels constricting though the stomach even though the fabric has good stretch for a woven. What is likely the issue is that my hips go out in a dramatic fashion. Much faster than the hip curve of the pattern. And most of the tester versions I’ve seen are on ladies who have slimmer hips than my build. So the gored version just isn’t as nice to wear as the pleated skirt.

img_6880

The back turned out totally awesome. I’ve really been nailing the invisible zip installation recently and I’m a huge fan of the V neckline in the back.

So I’m going to wear this a few more time and see how I feel before I made another. I have a few yards of some linen that would be just perfect for this pattern, but I want to feel more confident before breaking it out. Maybe the solution is a 12/14 back and a 12/16 front. I think also a different dart shape for the front lower bust darts. All easy fixes when I’m ready.

img_6874

Also, I realize I’m nit picking. This dress is about 1000% better than anything I could buy commercially. We went to a party last night and someone who works in fashion complimented my dress! It was really exciting.

 

 

Loominous Upton!

Was there anyone more excited about Cashmerette’s new pattern, the Upton Dress? Probably not. I was stoked. The Appleton and Washington (hacked) have become wardrobe staples for me so I was thrilled to see her come out with a woven pattern. I have had such trouble getting dress bodices to fit lately that I thought surely this was my ticket to the perfect fit.

And the end result is not quite there. Over the Memorial Day weekend I made up my first version using the same size as my previous Cashmerette patterns and it is too big. Womp womp.

img_6697

This is a size 14G graded out to a 16 for the waist and hips. Looking at the back of the envelope I’d been worried the dress would be too tight if I made the size 12G, but I should have just followed directions!

Even with adding additional darts to the back neckline there is too much fabric. The neckline is too wide! Just really too much fabric everywhere. But before moving on can we talk about the paid matching. I matched the shit out of that plaid and this is the best invisible zipper installation ever.

img_6700

I like the way this dress looks so much better with the extra fabric pinched out so I suppose I’ll suck it up and unpick the lining so I can take it in at the side seams. I couldn’t face it last night but it is much needed to make this a more wearable dress. Didn’t stop me from wearing it to work today anyways!

img_6706

I switched out the neckline for a square neck since it suited the plaid fabric. Also bias cut the waistband because 1) I like it and 2) the plaid on the fabric wasn’t symmetrical. A bias waistband helps masked the non-matching plaid pattern down the center front. I also didn’t have enough fabric to make the full skirt with 5 pleats each front and back. For 45″ fabric the pattern has you cut out 4 skirt panels then seam the center front. I didn’t want one more spot to match the plaid, so I omitted the outermost pleats to get the skirt to fit across 45″ wide fabric and still have a very successful skirt.

With a cardigan this dress is 100% win! But next time I will for sure cut one size smaller and I’ll alter this one once I can face the seam ripper. I still have hope that the Upton will be really successful for me! In the meantime I’m going to bask in the knowledge that I am an ace plaid pattern matcher and how much I love where I placed the color bands of fabric to suit my shape.

Goldilocks and the 3 Monetas

Colette’s Moneta is an incredible popular knit dress pattern. It has a wide size range (33-54 inch bust), is simple to make, and a nice easy silhouette to wear. But I seem to be the one person in the blogiverse that was an utter failure at making this pattern.

Exhibit 1 – This dress is too big!

IMG_5221

Here I am in all my weekend mom glory. Comfy dress, Anna stickers from Frozen, and slippers because I was spending the afternoon sewing.

This was my first attempt at making Moneta and at first I really liked it. It is super comfy! But with time it has gotten saggy and frumpy looking. Based on the pattern envelope recommendations I made a L in the shoulders and graded out to an XL from the underarm down. Mistake! The sleeves have huge bags of extra fabric. The neckline is huge! The only part that worked was the waist.

IMG_5224

Oh my gosh, the back is just as bad. Look at how low the waist sits! The whole thing is huge. Thank goodness for cardigans to hide most of this when I wear it. Did I mention this was the length for 3/4 sleeves? WTF is that about? I do not understand patterns that mark elbow sleeves as 3/4 sleeves. Not the same pattern companies!

The fabric is a lovely interlock from Robert Kaufman that my friend gave to me, so I am sad this dress was such an utter failure.

Exhibit 2 – This dress is too small!

So then I regrouped and made another version in some Art Gallery jersey I had on hand.

Moneta 2 Front

This time I cut a large for the shoulders then graded to an XL at the waist. I also narrowed the neckline and swapped the sleeve for the pattern from Cashmerette’s Appleton Dress pattern.

Actually the dress looks okay from the front. Sleeves look a tiny bit tight, but not too bad. So let’s look at the back.

Moneta 2 Back

Eek! What the heck? Still too long in the back length of the bodice, but the worst part is my arms look like they are eating my sleeves. Sob! Another dress that looks okay with a cardigan, but I feel awkward wearing it on its own.

At this point I put the pattern in time out. Bad pattern! Bad sewist for not thinking the fit through!

Exhibit 3 – Goldilocks gets it right!

Well then last week while I was coming off the high of finishing a few well fitted dresses  I thought I’d pull out Moneta and see if I could hack it into something better. Plus I’d stocked up on some $3/yard bargain fabric so if the dress failed, I’d only wasted about $10 including tax.

IMG_5182

Bam! Success! The elusive 3/4 sleeve didn’t quite happen, but that’s a very easy fix next time. Beyond the sleeves I love everything about the fit.

So, how did I make it happen? Well I did it by drafting the Moneta neckline onto Cashmerette’s Washington Dress bodice. Then I used the Moneta skirt as is. The drafting took a little time, but now that its done I could make this pattern again in a snap. Plus doing a little math can be fun!

IMG_5184

The back turned out pretty perfectly too. It’s meant to be clingy, especially in this Robert Kaufman jersey, so I don’t mind the closer fit. At least its a dress I can wear without a cardigan and feel comfortable which seems like a huge achievement in getting used to my post two kids body.

In the end, I am starting to think that even with the extended sizing Colette’s patterns just don’t suit my shape. I’ve made 3 or 4 now and they have all been terrible flops even with careful measurement and fit tweaks. The problem is that most indie pattern companies design super casual clothes. So, anyone know of a pattern company designing slightly more professional dresses that go up to a size 16 or 18? Otherwise I fear I might be headed towards drafting my own, but I’ve always been better at modifying than drafting from scratch. Hmmmm, something to ponder.

 

Put a Bird on It

Happy New Year! Yay for 2016! Here in Pasadena the Rose Parade has marched down Colorado Blvd. and the Rose Bowl game has been played. Time for our little city to calm down and start getting ready to return to our regular routine.

I managed to eek out a little more fabric and sewing fun during our holiday break. On New Year’s Eve we took a family outing to see some friends on the other side of town. On the way back my husband wrangled our overtired kids so I could make a stop at The Fabric Store! I’ve been eyeing their merino jerseys for a while, but it isn’t easy to make it cross town with two small children. I was so glad to finally stop by and I wasn’t disappointed. IMG_5139.jpg

I bought two lengths of jersey to make wrap dresses. One is emerald green and the other is sort of a soft mauve color. Wool might seem a little silly in our climate, but I wear wool nearly every single day. It is so breathable! Plus both fabrics are fairly lightweight with a nice drape. And wrap dresses are so great for work wear and flattering as well.

And as if friend time and fabric shopping wasn’t enough, I also wore my new Appleton Dress for the whole day to see how my fit adjustments would work out. And the answer is…nearly perfectly.

IMG_5144

This version is made with one of the kits Jenny sold when the pattern was first released. I held onto the fabric because I was nervous about sewing with a rayon blend. But now that I’ve worn my two Appletons many times I had a much better idea how they fit and what changes I wanted to make.

IMG_5146

The biggest change I made was to lower the waist by one inch. This was tricky because there are no markings on the pattern to do this sort of alteration. So I ended up finding a nice small point between darts to add the length. Thankfully it worked! I cut both fronts the same so I’d have more overlap. Then I cute the neckline trim pieces a little longer to account for the extra length. That was the only fail. The neckline needed to be a tad bit more snug. Lastly I took some of the fullness out of the front armhole and now the front lies so smoothly. Perfection.

IMG_5142

This dress will fit perfectly into my work wardrobe and I am so happy to leave 2015 with a bang! I cannot wait to keep tweaking and hacking patterns in 2016 so I can have a whole me-made wardrobe of custom fit clothes. Having a good fit really make me feel a lot more confident about myself. It’s super exciting.

And this time Dottie got in on my photo shoot. Silly dog!

 

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.

IMG_5046

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.

IMG_5048

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.

IMG_5045

An Apple a Day!

I’ve gone a tad bit nuts this week making new dresses for myself. The high temperature never topped 75F all week and now that the time has changed most of the time I am outside is in the early morning or after dark. I suddenly found myself wearing sundresses and cold.

Plus I got a new pattern in the mail right before the Halloween madness and I really really wanted to give it a go!

This week I worked up two versions of the Appleton Dress from Cashmerette! At first I wasn’t quite sold on the pattern, but then I read it came with 3 different bust ranges and a sway back adjustment built in! Sold!

I bought one of the kits she had for purchase, but I’m a little nervous to cut into the rayon jersey. So I turned to some Art Gallery jersey I’d bought but didn’t particularly love. It was not quite the color I’d expected so it has been sitting unloved. Then the other night I decided to go for it! Usually I don’t drink any alcohol on weeknights, but I’d really wanted a glass of wine. Bad idea. Between the wine consumption and the preschooler interrupting me with a request to shoo away a monster in her closet you could say I was distracted. And cut a straight size 14 E/F. I also cut two right sleeves and the front pieces backwards. Whoops! 

IMG_4626

It’s actually not near as bad as I thought it was when I first finished it! Wearable though a little tighter than I’d like. The fronts don’t cross over by that much and I’m interested to see if it becomes indecent at work. The sleeves are also tighter than I’d like. I wrote into Jenny to ask about sleeve ease and she very quickly replied that her testers found it okay. Thank you Jenny! But it was still too tight for my taste. 

IMG_4630

Anyways, I took a peak at my other jerseys and picked another print that had left me stumped. Its a stripe and I figure using them running vertically would be flattering. I was right. Here is version #2 a size 14 G/H top, 16 waist, and 18 hip with size 16 sleeves.

IMG_4619

My husband said I looked like a piece of candy. Yummy. And yes! This version looks awesome, though I probably didn’t need to go to the 18 hip. Next time I’ll just grade to the 16. And I totally love how the strips work to frame the neckline and waist. Fantastic!

IMG_4623

The sleeves are a lot better fit too and not hard at all to sew into the slightly smaller opening.

But, what about the bust? Did I need to go up to the G/H size?

IMG_4632IMG_4625

I probably didn’t need to, but I did have to tug a bit to get the blue dress to sit right. Jenny’s claim is a no budge neckline, but it did slip a on both versions. Anyone have any fit tips or opinions?

And I’m on a roll churning out dresses and have two more coming soon! So I’ll leave you with a Lu photo bomb. This kid is wonderfully crazy.

IMG_4628