Photographs Can Be So Helpful!

February was a pretty frustrating sewing month. As you already saw with my previous post, finding the fit I want has been a bit elusive. But I’m okay with that. I knew I was going to encounter some issues as I tried my hand at new and non-cup size specific patterns. But the weather has also been really warm recently. We had the warmest February on record and all those long sleeve jersey dresses are not quite as practical as I planned!

I’ve also been thinking about shape. What kinds of skirts shapes am I gravitating towards and where do I want the waist to hit? I had this epiphany while taking a ballet class. I hadn’t taken a ballet class in over 4 years, but decided to go back to it recently. And this is what I’ve been wearing (sorry about the red-faced post class photo).


So something somewhat fitted, but not overly clingy on top (t-shirt from MischiefMadeMe), waist defined at it’s smallest place, and a skirt that is more of a circle shape that ends above the knee. I feel good in this. So good I don’t have the desire to cover up going to and from class.


Now lets look at what I was sewing this month.

First up is the Emery Dress. I’d made one of these before in corduroy. It’s cute, but the dark fabric made it hard to see the fit issues. So I bought some very cheap quilting cotton to work up another version.


From the front I’m really happy with the shoulders and bust. I ended up going down a full size then adding a FBA and I think it works. Some slight pulling on my larger bust side, but not bad. Looking at this in the photos I can see the waist is too low. The neckline is also pretty high for me. I feel it makes my bust look lower than it is and doesn’t leave enough visual space between my bust and where I’d like the waist to hit.


And then there is the back. Whoops! I’d asked Christine Haynes what she thought of the back gaping and from the photos I sent it did seem like maybe the shoulders were too wide. But she also had suggested maybe the back was too long. I didn’t think that was true from studying myself in the mirror. Wrong! My husband took this photo and d’oh! Yeah. Back is too long.

So in the very near future I plan to wack off the bottom of the bodice and also add a sway back adjustment and see how I like it. It is such a classic pattern that I’d love to figure out the fit so I can adapt.

I may removed some of the fullness from the waist of the skirt and make it more a-line. We’ll see.


February  was also when By Gum, By Golly’s had a series on a wrap top. I haven’t spent too much time on vintage styles lately, but a knit wrap top ticks all my boxes. Vintage inspired – check! Comfy yet chic – check! Creates a nice neckline and defined waist – check! Pairs well with dresses – check!

Turned out I had Cake’s Pavlova Wrap Top pattern. It is so similar to the pattern Tasha used that I figured it was worth a try.

The day I made this pattern was one of those days. The kind where you apply fusible interfacing to the right side of your fabric, and accidentally seam rip holes, and sew on the sleeve bands with the wrong side facing (but only on one side).


But overall not bad! I only wish I’d learned my lesson from sewing Cake patterns in the past and sized down. This is a size 40 and it’s pretty generous. Next time I’ll try the 35.


I also might play with the way the ties are done. Maybe. I have some gorgeous pink wool jersey I’d like to use for a future version, but I think I need one more test in the smaller size first. And now that time has passed since I made this I’m feeling more positive.


Anyways, what do you think? Are these worth trying again?

Also thank you to everyone who commented for a cause on my anniversary post! I ended up making a a flat contribution instead of just going by the number of posts, but the feedback you provided was incredible helpful. Thank you!

Process or Product

Some people love the process of making things. They make sure each step is perfect before moving forward. Maybe they take good notes. I’m not that kind of sewer. I like getting to the finished product. But I’ve been working on tweaking the fit of my clothes because finished projects aren’t worth much if they are badly fitting.

Moving forward I’m going to strive to take more time on the process of sewing, but for right now I’m in alterations land. For example, here is my Appleton Dress right after I finished it.


See those folds above the bust? Well I contacted Jenny (the pattern designer) for her feedback and she mentioned something called a concave chest alteration. It can come from poor posture or a large and lower bust. That I certainly have even in a well fitted bra.

So armed with a name for the alteration needed I hit the internet and found this fantastic guide from Sew News. Ta-da! They have something you can do to fix an already finished garment! So I altered my Appleton Dress and while the fit is not as good with an after though fix, the results look much better!


Next I tackled the Emery Dress that gave me such grief.

See the before?

Emery 2

And now the after!


I ended up taking in the back all the way from neckline to waist by 1/2 inch and also re-did the zipper to take it in further. And the top of the zipper is still funky, but the rest of the fit is much much improved.


Just look at how much more smoothly the fabric flows! Next I really need to make a muslin of the Emery dress so I can tune in the fit on a fabric without such a heavy pattern. And doing all these alterations reminds me how much I should make a new block. I’ve gotten comfortable with manipulating patterns and making up my own that it seem silly to so heavily alter someone else’s pattern. But on the other hand sometimes you don’t want to re-invent the wheel. So we’ll see.

Right now I am deep into making an 1899 winter dress. I need to be done by Thursday. Hopefully I make it! I know I will. All I have left to do is re-work my under garments and decorate the outer garments, but it is fussy work.


Falling in Love with Corduroy!

I’ve been on a real corduroy kick lately. When I was younger I mostly bought quilting cottons because those were readily available and affordable. This was back before the boom in indie fabric production. You could by other types of fabric, but JoAnn’s mostly had polyester and it was incredibly hard to judge fabrics for purchase online. The few times I tried ordering I had very mixed results. So today I love that so many of the newer fabric companies (and many older ones too) are coming out with fabrics suited to garment sewing. Bring on the corduroy!!!

Elizabeth Olwen’s collection Floratopia from Cloud 9 is gorgeous. A lot of other lines skew too twee for me, but these are more appropriate for the whimsical adult so I purchased dress quantities in two colors ways, Go Your Own Way and Tiny Dancer.


Then I turned to the Emery Dress pattern from Christine Haynes. I saw a sample of the Emery Dress in the window at Sew LA (which recently closed, sob!) and purchased it immediately. I love it’s classic styling with fun details. Corduroy is not a recommended fabric, but I knew from sewing with Rae Hoekstra’s Small World fabric that it is light weight and has good drape. I forged on.

It is largely a very successful dress! Emery 1

But the neckline it too big. In the front it is okay. Wearable for sure, but the back bags really terribly. You can see where the zipper is flipping out and there is just inches and inches of extra fabric.

Emery 2

So this weekend I’m going to try and tackle altering the back so it fits a little more closely. I want room to move, but this is just too much. I should have made a muslin I know, but I made this for Halloween and was on a tight deadline!  Thankfully the way Christine designed the darts in the back means that it shouldn’t be too difficult to take in and hopefully I’ll be able to update you soon! Especially since I have another dress quantity of fabric to work up and the weather is actually fall-like in LA. Yay Fall!