Washington Dress – TNT

Greetings! I’m finding myself quite recovered from the Thanksgiving holiday and am gearing up for the Christmas season. As I mentioned our lives have been quite full lately and a big chunk of my time has recently been taken up by church. I’m not here to prattle on about religion. I promise. But church is a part of my life again. Partly because the political climate makes me nervous, partly because I have two little girls and want to give them a solid religious base, and partly because I was really missing the community church brings into one’s life.

For most of October and November I’ve spent Sundays going from service, to sunday school, to grocery shopping, then back to church for New Members Class. It was exhausting, but also fulfilling and I’ve met some pretty nice and welcoming people. I had planned to make a new dress for the service when new members are introduced. The dress is even mostly put together, but well…it wasn’t quite right. I used rayon challis and it will be a lovely spring dress (maybe Easter?), but it wasn’t right for November. Plus I need to take out a huge chunk of length from the back and that means a lot of seam ripping. I just did not have the time for such an endeavor.

So I set aside the rayon dress in favor of something quick and easy, a tried and true pattern. Yep, my favorite winter dress, the Cashmerette Washington bodice with a half circle skirt. I’ve made it several times and knew I could whip one up in just a couple hours.

img_1104Tada! A nice fresh dress to kick off the winter sewing season. Soft and lovely and forgiving to wear.

I don’t really have new to add to my thoughts on the pattern. I’ve used it several times and it always works well. This time I added a touch of ruching at the bust.

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The fabric is Liberty of London Ganton Jersey in the pattern Meandering Chrysanthemum. I purchased it at The Fabric Store in LA a few month ago for what must have been a clearance price. Something like $16/yard when Liberty jersey tends to go for double the price. Usually I like a bit of lycra in my jersey, but this 100% cotton version was too nice to pass up. It reminded me of the fabric I used for my very favorite winter dress. In practice it was hard to find the grain of this jersey and I am wondering if there was a reason it was so cheap.

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I think I’ve mostly avoided the dreaded flower boob in this one. It was a close call with so many blossoms closely placed ūüôā

Anyways, this dress was originally intended for Thanksgiving. I figured it would look nice for photos and also be comfortable for the 5 hour drive to Vegas and eating massive amounts of food. I was right on both accounts. I give the dress two thumbs up. It also had me feeling confident while standing in front of hundreds of people in church. Now to sew up the two more dress quantities of fabric I ordered this month. Once I pulled out my winter dresses I realized I have about 5 days worth of work clothes. Not quite as much as I’d like. Plus some of the things I packed away looks a little worse for wear after spending the summer in a plastic bin.

And if you’re interested in other sewer’s favorite patterns, I hope you’ll check out the Sewcialist’s Tried and True Month. It is really interesting to see what styles people pick to make again and again. For me, this skater dress style is now a staple of my winter wardrobe. Easy to make and easy to wear.

 

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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!

Stretchy Fabric Strikes Again!

Well, I’m still continuing on my journey to learn about stretch fabrics. My latest project is a testament to why I need to slow down and think a little more. Probably a reoccurring theme on this blog. I’m not a process sewer. I want a finished item and I want it NOW! So sometimes (most of the time) I forge ahead even when things don’t seem quite right.

So here is another one of my Washington Dress Hacks.

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Oh hey! That doesn’t seem too bad. And really the dress looks pretty good in the photos. So why am I unhappy? Well this fabric is SO STRETCHY. The first time I used this fabric I made a Moneta (post here) and it stretched all crazy out of shape. I thought it was the pattern. Now I’m thinking it was the fabric choice.

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This is some crazy cheap fabric I found at M&L Fabrics in the $3/yard section. It’s a Robert Kaufman interlock as part of a Valori Wells collection. I love the print. I’ve been hoarding it for a year deciding what to make. But it is also totally different from the Valori Wells interlock knit I bought that was from Free Spirit. So confused!  I’m guessing she switched companies between collections and suddenly I’m shopping the discount bin and finding things from a long while ago. Whoops!

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Anyways, to make matter worse this fabric is also 100% cotton and has zero recovery. So while it drapes beautifully it wouldn’t be so great for something that needs to snap back throughout the day. I’d contemplated making a wrap dress, but I’m glad I went with something simple. Even sewing this fabric was a total pain. I had to wash and dry it just to make it wearable post stitching.

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Regardless I will keeping wearing the dress. Probably only over the weekends. It is really comfy even if I’m not in love. It makes my bust look down right saggy as shown in this photo my mom snapped while we were miniature golfing.

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Plus the weight of the fabric pulls it all forward. Not a huge deal on the putt putt course, but not exactly appropriate for the office!

I’m pretty certain I’m going to take it in at the side seams a touch. The fabric has the stretch and I lowered the arm hole depth on this version so the space is there. Maybe it will help anchor the dress to my body. Worth a try?

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.)

Fabric Choice Matters

I only started sewing knit clothing for myself less than a year ago, so I have a lot to learn about fabric choice! I tend to lean towards using natural fibers whenever I can. They just breathe so much better than most synthetics and it is hot so much of the year here. But sometimes I forget a blend can really help, especially when mixed with cotton.

Both of these dresses are made with my Washington Dress hacked to have a lower neckline and half circle skirt. Someday soon I’ll get a tutorial written up.

This first dress is in Valori Well’s Wish Knit in Passion. I saw someone made an Appleton dress in this fabric and I loved it so I bought some. And it is so pretty in person, but also much heavier than I expected and 100% cotton it seems. I got shy about doing an Appleton as I had planned because this fabric doesn’t have great recovery and doesn’t seem well suited to being pulled tight and tied. So new plan.

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I juuuuusssst made it with the 3 yards since I wanted long sleeves. So the pattern matching isn’t quite perfect, but pretty close. But what isn’t quite as apparent in the photo is it pulls across the bust when I first put it on. Then as the day goes on the dress relaxes and then relaxes some more.

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But I have to say I don’t hate it. It is incredible comfortable to wear. Plus, even as the dress relaxes the silhouette still shows off my waist.¬†¬†All of this was a total accident! A happy one.

The second dress is in mystery fabric I picked up off the $3/yard wall at M&L Fabrics. Who knows what this dress is made of. I’d guess cotton with something else. Maybe bamboo? Nylon? Something with a bit of sheen. Like I said, still learning.

And another fabric I bought with Appleton in mind, but then this one seemed too sheer. So hacked Washington Dress to the rescue again!

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Derp! I’ve had to take photos first thing in the morning recently and I swear I’m still asleep in these. But dang, this dress was another happy accident. I’m not keen on the flower placement in the front, but again only had 3 yards to work with and tried my best.

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Regardless of fabric content the drape is great. Just perfectly falling toward the hem. And even though it has long sleeves I should be able to wear it well into spring since the fabric is so light.

I’ve been on a big quilting kick lately, but I dug through my fabric bins lately and remembered all the gorgeous wovens I’ve been hoarding, so¬†soon enough I’ll have to move on to those. Spring is not far away!

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.

 

 

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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