Thursday, August 25, 2016

New Look 6374 top in striped silk

This year I have resolved to sew some different shapes and types of garments, with mixed success. I suppose the reason we (at least I) stick to the same things is that is what is comfortable, familiar, or even perceived to be flattering. Previously I have not sewn many woven tops - I do have a number of button front shirts but other than that all my tops are knits. However now that I took the plunge with this great result I predict more variations on this theme in the future.

So the latest foray into silk tops is this. Which I absolutely love. And labored over - due to the unusual fabric. Although it might not appear unusual as a finished top.

green silk top sq2

Here's a look on the dress form. This fabric is a silk, crepe de chine, I guess.  Which I got in the upstairs discount room at Stone Mountain. They have so many treasures to be discovered there, I rarely come home without something I find in that room. Which has even more fabric now as they have discontinued classes - so they have more space for fabric.

green silk stripe front view

What came first, the new pattern or the new fabric?  Actually I bought this fabric maybe 2 months ago? and keep thinking about what to do with it. It definitely presented a challenge because it is actually a border print, or I think you might describe it as an asymmetrical stripe panel print.

Anyway I did remember to take a photo of the fabric before I cut out the top. It was about 42 inches wide with the lighter section separating the black/green stripe sections. I think the yardage they had on the bolt was not cut along the panel so they cut me this portion which gave me some extra of the light portion you see at the top. The main top pattern pieces are there on the table so you can see how I used the stripe and dark/light section.

green stripe fabric

The uninspiring pattern envelope. My opinion, adding those bits of blue lace on the one in the photo takes it straight to frump town although the color is not my fav plus those elbow length rolled up sleeves rarely look good on anyone.  So why did I buy this pattern?  Well after my success with my previous New Look top (another version here) I noticed this one which has a nice small placket with a slight angle to open up the neckline, plus it has the shoulder gathers instead of bust darts, so good for stripes. Also the shirttail hem although basically you can add that to any pattern. I think the collar is a bit on the skimpy side and for a winter version I might add some width to it. OK for a lightweight top but it is really neither here nor there, not a binding and not really a collar. Odd. In fact I just made another version of this top where I opened up the neckline and made a round band which sounds complicated but is not really  - and I will try to show in another post. Because pattern reuse - I am all about that once I get a good one.

NL_6374 pattern evn

So how did I use the various bits of the fabric? First I cut out the body pieces matching the stripes for the front and back. Then I cut out the front shoulder pieces and the back yoke from the light portion of the fabric, also the collar from little scraps remaining, taking care to reserve as much of the light portion for the sleeves. Figuring I could also cut out the placket pieces from the remaining fabric. I thought about making the placket from the mostly black section although I wasn't sure that would look quite right. In any case once I was ready to cut the placket all that remained was the stripe section so DRAT! I had to cut it out very exactly to match the stripe across the placket and front. Which was a little bit of a pain but now I am so satisfied with how it turned out. Woo Hoo! Good thing I had all my recent placket practice, haha.

green silk stripe close up

A little construction view for those of you who like to see the insides. I used the Pro-Sheer Elegance Couture  interfacing for the placket pieces and the collar as well. They (Fashion Sewing Supply) just have the best interfacings and if I could only have one type on some imaginary desert island of sewing I would take all the Pro-Sheer Elegances in every weight and color. Which might be cheating as that is picking more than one but it is my self-imagined desert island of sewing. With unlimited deliveries of snacks from Trader Joe's and wi-fi for my podcast sewing accompaniment.

green stripe placket sewing

More views.

green stripe side view

green stripe silk back view

Sorry about the focus on this one - all the back views are slightly blurry but you get the idea. The back is about 4 inches longer than the front. Like I said, slightly new silhouette for me and in this fabric I think it works well.

green silk top back view on me

Quite breezy when these pics were taken, but you get the idea of how floaty and lovely this fabric feels to wear.

silk top side view on me

So another try at a new shape and I'm quite happy I did. I can see using this pattern for other types of tops, a long sleeve for sure for winter. And maybe even a drawstring waist. I'll have to see what strikes my fabric fancy in the next few months. Until then it is still summer here !!!! I hope. Although you can notice the evenings getting darker just that little bit earlier each week - boo I don't like that.

By the way, a little plug for Stone Mountain Fabrics - I saw they had this fabric in the store again, both in this color and in red/navy. I seriously love that fabric, it is an RPL knit I guess but the weight and colors are exceptional. Also I have bought two color ways of this fabric which is super soft and lovely.

Next up - more striped things. Including a dress that I showed on Instagram with my lukewarm reaction - and judging by the comments it might be better than I thought. Though still not my color! Stay tuned...

Happy late summer Sewing, Beth

today's garden photo - I found this on my camera roll from back in April, a yellow iris covered in raindrops. Sometimes these iPhone photos amaze me.


Friday, August 19, 2016

Random Threads # 23

Plenty of scribbles in my notebook so it is time for another Random Threads post. I can't believe August is more than half finished, you know I love summer and put autumn at the bottom of my list of preferred seasons. Chilly weather, falling leaves, days getting shorter. Not my thing at all. And the raptures over fall sewing. I don't get it. Summer fabrics forever! But of course if we were all alike it would be boring and so I will check out your fall sewing and possibly be inspired. But don't count on it.

Onward to my random thoughts.

Circular ruffles - remember this post I did a few weeks ago?  Where I made a dress with a circular/flounce ruffle because I was writing a post for Craftsy. And then promptly removed said ruffle before even wearing it. The other day I was taking my periodic wander through Nordstroms in order to snoop all the designer stuff (be still my beating heart - Armani Collezioni your wools are heavenly, Lanvin and Marni caught my on this day as well). In both the designer departments and the more down to earth dress section I noticed a lot of circular ruffles. Both on hems and as a detail elsewhere. Here's one that I saw. Pretty how the ruffle curves up the side.

orange ruffle dress

Are you watching the Olympics? I love them, every time they come around I am just a sucker for the whole thing. Plus it is such a nice diversion from politics - which we desperately need for a while. Anyway - I was thinking about sports the other day and realized I have never played a team sport despite doing a lot of sports. The closest I came was playing on the tennis team but tennis is not really a team sport in that you are playing individual matches. So tennis, skiing, golf, diving, even sailboarding a bit but no team sports. And yet I love to watch almost any Olympic sport. Well maybe I can skip the table tennis and badminton.  Plus I am fascinated by the women track athletes - they look so beautiful. Do you watch only the sports you are interested in? or could not care less about the Olympics? Even all the various team uniforms and competition apparel - everything is fashion now and quite interesting to me.

Article in the NY Times about McCall's pattern company: here is the link, I am going to guess that a lot of you have read it by now. It was interesting to read although short on business details. I would love to have heard about how many patterns they sell annually, what are their best selling patterns etc. No secret that I am a big fan of Vogue patterns, particularly the designer patterns which have details from high fashion that you can't find elsewhere. These days I am not quite as good a customer as I was previously, having so many patterns in my file means I can usually find something that is pretty much the same as in their new offerings. But a pattern with multiple views and versions is what Vogue et. al do better than anyone. My latest Vogue pattern purchase was this one, V1500 which I thought had possibilities as a dress and also to convert into a top. So only one item here but I can envision it as other items as well.

V1500 pattern envelope

Labels in clothes:  I think I have mentioned this before in a previous random threads. This week I took a bunch of donations to the charity shop and was looking through my cast offs before bagging them up. And realized that any store-bought clothes I have all have the labels and tags removed. I just can't stand to have any tags or labels, they always seem to scratch. So I remove them all - which means there is no size label. And then my handmade stuff, also no size indication. So I asked the woman at the shop what they do and her reply was "We put 'em out and they have to try 'em on". Which made me feel OK about donating to that charity. At least my handmade treasures might make their way to someone who appreciates them. Hope so! But labels - I don't get it. To me that is a good thing about sewing  - I don't have to have some stiff and scratchy label.

Thread colors:  How many colors do you use? A sewing student remarked the other day that I didn't seem to have a lot of thread. Here is a pic of the colors that I keep in the drawer next to my sewing machine. These are the colors that I use for just about everything. I rarely buy thread to match a fabric - other than topstitching it doesn't show so who cares? White as often as possible - then I use navy on black and black when sewing navy. The black/navy thing is to save my eyes - which have been toting super thick glasses since the 4th grade. Thank goodness for contact lenses :) But back to thread. Sure, my sewing color palette is heavy on the blues but I find these threads enough. I do have a rack of other colors, like greens, beige/tan/brown/jeans thread, a few various reds and burgundy colors. Plus a bunch of singular colors like yellow, bright orange or a specific gray. Generally though I get by with these. And the two most useful of the colors are the two at the bottom. Grey is magic - when in doubt try grey. Also the purple one on the bottom right. It looks more violet here than it is in real life where is can become a light blue, pale violet, or even grey depending on fabric. Surprisingly useful.

thread colors

Show me the garment: is anyone else sometimes frustrated when you are reading a blog post, or pattern review, or looking at an instagram pic of an item that someone has sewn and due to their pose you can't really see the details? Or maybe it is just me. The one that bugs me is having all photos with both hands on hips. Sure I do that - I think it is to avoid standing there like a stick figure, it feels natural and looks nice. But with both arms up then the armhole is distorted and I can't see how the pattern really looks. If I'm talking about a pattern I try - not always successfully - to show the pattern and how it fits or what I did to adjust the fit. Even some pattern companies do this - which they think might disguises the problematic areas but I think just exacerbates them (Colette - in my experience helping others their sleeve/armhole design is just weird and likely to be trouble). So fellow stitchers - show me your garment and I will try to do the same. Some are really diligent about showing the garment; front, back, sides plus details. Those of you, I salute you!

Fancy packaging - does it make you like something more? Recently I have read a few posts where someone wrote about an item, I think one was a sewing pattern and the other was something else, where they were in raptures over the fancy packaging and felt that it made the experience better. That fascinates me as I find if something is packaged lavishly it actually annoys me - it seems wasteful and like I am paying for that which adds no value to the actual thing. Packaging is meant to be thrown away so it seems odd to put too much into it. However I have ordered things on Etsy where the seller packaged items in what was obviously reused material and yet it was done with a bit of charm and whimsy. Or received gifts from friends from Japan that were beautifully yet minimally wrapped (they might be the masters of this). Anyway - clinging to my old habits - give me a nice tissue paper sewing pattern in a small white envelope and I am a happy customer.

Stripes! a festival of stripes! Stripe-mania!  Stripe-A-Palooza!  ok that is a tortured way of saying I have just completed 3 striped items in a row and I anticipate more. What is happening?  I almost never sewing anything striped until a few years ago. Odd, I admit. But now I really like them. If you look at my instagram you will see a striped item that I posted which I am growing to like a bit more but was unsure since it is black, or mostly black and I hardly ever wear black.  Because it is boring! OK there I said it, boring. Not fun. Dull. Anyway - this one might be redeemed. Full blog post on this one soon.
And a sneak peek of something that is more in my color wheelhouse. This one is pattern love - also soon to be blogged.

blue stripe tee peek

Confirmation that this dress has become something of a summer uniform (despite my sister saying yesterday "Did you make that dress?" Me "yes" Her "oh" Me "why, what do you think?" Her "it's ok, kind of looks like a housedress" Me "well I like it" ) know how that goes. Love them and the conversation never changes since we were old enough to talk, right?

Denim Burda dress sq

Only 92˚F on the thermometer - cool and balmy for an August day. But not really blue skies - the fires are taking their toll on N. California and I feel so bad for everyone in their path. Take care everyone and stay out of mother nature's way.

Happy Summer Sewing, Beth

today's garden photo - here is a trailing geranium that was in the shade and not really doing anything. I moved it into one of those hanging baskets in the sunshine and wow, so many blooms. I see the hummingbirds in the evening all over this one.

pink trailing geranium

Monday, August 8, 2016

Vogue 1191 Michael Kors knit dress

The sewing resolution for this summer was to stay away from the dresses - but that is a very difficult resolution to keep! Particularly since this pattern has always been calling out to me to sew it up again since its first version, back in 2011. Really? It has been that long?

Of course I still have not sewn it up as pictured on the pattern envelope - with the long sleeves.

green knit front view on me

Earlier this spring at a Bay Area Sewist's meet up I chose this fabric. A few times a year the group does a swap day, either fabrics or patterns and they are a fun way to get rid of stuff you don't want (and probably bring home stuff you don't need) In any case, everything is put out on the tables grouped by fabric type - we stroll around and check out what is there and then there are a few rounds of picking. I spied this green knit print right away and it was 2 full yards so plenty to make a dress. I have picked up some other useful fabrics there as well, and at the very least it is a good way to get some otherwise unloved items that can be used for pattern testing etc. The pattern swaps are fun too, I  have a Vogue Donn Karan pattern that Laura Mae insisted I take as she said "it looks great on everyone" although it is still in my wishful thinking pile.

greenknit front on form

Just in case anyone is ever wondering - that dress form is not my measurements, it is near enough in the bust, but the waist and hips are smaller. I bought it at a garage sale and it is great for everything but exact fitting. Having a custom dress from with length measurements as well as the circumferences would be so nice but I am not about to invest in one now when this one is good enough :) plus it has wheels on the base so quite handy.

Pattern, Pattern, what's the pattern? It is this Vogue Pattern 1191, a Michael Kors design. He has long since stopped doing patterns for Vogue but the ones he did are outstanding. The other one I made is the Vogue 1117, sewn in my first year of blogging. That became my go-to fall/winter party dress for awhile. Do you get to a point where you know all your family/friends have seen a particular item and it is time to move on? This is a small dilemma of sewing, you want to wear the stuff you made and absolutely love - but then there are other newer things that should get worn as well.  Ok not the biggest problem in the world, just an observation.

V1191 ptrn

V1191 tech drawing

This dress has a lot of quirks -sewing wise. Here is the link to my first version of this pattern.

Most obviously I made both my versions sleeveless, as it seems ideal for a summer dress. And I won't say this is not a bit complicated. I laughed at myself a bit, as I must have been going through an analytical phase when I made it the first time, I had noted the number of minutes it took for me to do  step on the instruction sheet. And oh yes, I did look at the instruction sheet, both times. For the record the first version took about 7.5 hours to make, not including staring at the pattern pieces to figure out the origami of it all. This second version was more like 6 hours which for a twisty pleated dress like this I was pretty happy with! But I had worked out all the fit plus the mystery steps in the first version so just sewed without stopping to tear my hair out as happened in the first one :)

green knit fron view on me3
Because yeah, this is a bit confusing and there are a zillion dots, pleats, tiny darts, twists etc to keep track of.  And you know I am a mad tailor tacker so it looks like cat's whiskers or something once I get them all done.

tailor tacks green knit

Also I keep the pattern piece tacked up on my bulletin board while sewing, so I can see which way the stupid little pleats get folded etc.

pattern piece green knit

The result of all that marking, pleating and twisting is this.

green knit dress form closeup

Now a couple of warnings for this pattern. It is very low cut - as many of the Vogue designer dresses are. Fine for the runway I suppose but not for real life - at least not in my comfort zone. Plus I am shorter by 2 inches than the pattern is designed for - so keep that in mind when things don't hit you at the right spot - that is often the culprit. Those "shorten or lengthen here" lines are there for a reason! although not on this pattern. This is one of those "no provision for adjustment" patterns, other than the multi-size that is in the envelope. I made a size 12 on top - moving to the largest size at the hip, and then shortened at the shoulders by about 1/2 inch. But on top of that I sewed the center front seam longer by 1.5 inches which serves to raise up the center V neckline. I saw that adjustment in a review on Pattern Review when I made it the first time and it was really good advice.

Also after you do the twist and have the whole front completed I found it needed some hand stitching on one side to have the fabric cover up the bunch of pleats. Wasn't much but it makes the front much neater and it stays in place and drapes properly. I also raised the armholes by around 3/4" since it is designed for sleeves.

For those of you who like to see the construction: A lot of pins and pleating.

stitching pleats green knit

And the insides: this pattern has a self-lined front - all one piece, and then the back has a lining. For this I used the polyester knit lining fabric as I do in most knit dresses, it is called Jet Set and available at Joanns. In this older Random Threads post there is more info on this fabric.

green knit inside view

The back on this dress is plain, the front/back skirt is all one piece and it seams together down the center back.

green knit back on formgreen knit side on form

The sun was going down as we took these pictures, you can see the garden lights are on behind me. I really like color of this fabric - it lands in my jewel tone color preference. Plus it feels like a nightie, super soft and comfy.

green knit front view on me2

Onward to other things - not dresses! More tops in the works (ok confession I just cut out another dress that I could not resist, stripes! that is the only hint for now)

Whew summer is fading fast, the garden has moved from blooming to crispy and slightly bedraggled. Kind of how we feel when the temps soar over 100˚F for a few days in a row. Which we had about a week ago. No time to think about fall sewing when that happens!

Happy late summer sewing, Beth

today's garden photo, I forget the name of this plant which I bought at the local junior college horticultural department sale about 2 years ago. It was looking kind of wimpy - I planted it in some shade but it has reached out branches into the sunshine and now doing quite well. I like the papery white flowers - the look like lanterns before they open up.


Thursday, August 4, 2016

New Look 6677 top in silk

Based on the amount of times I have worn this top already this summer I can say this might be my favorite sewing project of 2016. The combo of floaty silk top and cheerful print make it just right for any moment.

coral silk top on me3

Yes, big smile for a simple silk top. You might recognize the fabric, when I made this silk blouse back in January I had just about 7/8 of a yard remaining which was just enough to make a top. And what a difference the season makes, that blouse photo was taken on a gloomy cloudy day. Although now we are entering into the crisp brown phase of our California summer so some rainclouds would actually be nice.

While the year is only half finished this pattern has become my go-to top pattern so expect a steady stream of variations. There is something about the simple placket that makes it just right in terms of proportion and usefulness on a variety of fabrics.

silk coral top closeup

Not sure if it shows up in the photo but I did do the stitching on the placket, which adds a bit of visual interest close up.

For reference here is the pattern envelope. Ignoring that kind of ugly and very basic version that the model is wearing, I have only sewn the A-B-C versions, in fact only the sleeveless. But I expect the long sleeve version A will appear this winter. I think this pattern is a few years old and probably out of print.

New Look 6677 pattern env

front and back view on the dress form.
This is the same top as I made a couple of weeks ago for my friend Alice, in a royal blue eyelet. That version is a stunner. In fact I just bought some similar eyelet fabric for myself at Stone Mountain, in a pink-coral color so I need to sew that up pronto for summer wear as well.

silk top coral frontsilk coral top back

Pattern modification: not really anything on this, I am using the basic size 12 pattern and didn't have to adjust anything. The one design change is to cut in the armholes - which someone asked about recently. Both the "why" and the "how much".

Here is the back view on me, to answer the why. If I sew the pattern as designed, which uses the same pattern piece for the sleeveless and sleeved version, then the end of the shoulder point is quite far out on my shoulder. I just don't think that is a flattering look - particularly if you are a small or narrow shouldered person. And I have mentioned before that I think tops/dresses with no adjustment for the sleeveless version just look clunky to my eye, the proportions are off. I typically raise the bottom of the armhole and then move in the outer shoulder point.

coral top on me back view

To answer the "how much" I just cut out the top as is, and then try it on and play around with the width of the shoulder, usually it is narrower by about 1 to 1.5 inches. Or just to where my strap hits. I want the straps to be covered but just at the point. Probably not an adjustment for everyone, some people like a bit of arm coverage whereas I would be happy going around all summer in halter tops although that is not very practical (or appropriate for most days)

Anyway - this is basically my summer uniform, my go-to, my fallback, whatever you want to call it. Knit or silk sleeveless top and a denim skirt with pockets. Skirt pictured is my trusty Vogue 1247 - the only pattern number I know by heart.  Which I have made 5 times I think, surely with more to come.

Oh yeah, big smile for comfy summer clothes and wearing sandals all the time! Bonus note - I got this silk fabric at a ASG stash sale - so investment is about $ 6. For two shirts. Score! Does the minimal investment increase my satisfaction? Always. What can I say, I love a bargain fabric find.

coral silk top on me1

Up next, more tops, plus a pattern repeat Vogue Designer dress which snuck into my sewing production and proved again to be a winner. Plus some unselfish sewing and a Random Threads post in the works.

Happy Summer Sewing,

today's garden photo, Dahlias. Which are my favorite summer flower and I have successfully grown them but perhaps our climate/soil/precipitation is not exactly right for them so it is a bit hit or miss. But I keep trying and sometimes get a good result.


Wednesday, July 27, 2016

Summer floral tunic with My Fabric Designs

Time to show you some unselfish sewing - although modeled by me. I made a tunic top for my mom using a fabric I designed via I think this is my most successful fabric yet, with the caveat that I have two more waiting to be sewn up that are also really great.

The floral might be a bit too much for some, but I was going for a Hawaiian style fabric based on my starting point, which was a photo I took of one of my hibiscus plant blooms.

hibuscus tunic top on me3

We took these photos around 7:00 in the evening, so the colors might not be as bright as in full daylight. But you get the idea!

I have made so many tunic tops using this self-made pattern. I created the pattern by copying a tunic top that my mom has which she bought at Macy's a few years ago. I will put links to the other tunic tops below.

Here's a look at it on the dress form.

hibiscus top on form front

I found the contrast linen fabric at Stone Mountain fabrics in Berkeley. I like to use linen for the contrast placket and sleeve bands on these tops even though I don't ordinarily like linen, but in this instance it gives such a nice crisp finish.

Have you wanted to design your own fabric? I find it a bit challenging as I am not much of an artist but once I got the idea to manipulate photographs then it was more fun. FYI: My Fabric Designs offered me an opportunity to try their fabrics so this fabric was provided to me at no charge.

They have a design tool on their website, but I find it easier to create something in Photoshop and then upload the jpeg. I thought you might like to see some of the versions I went through in order to get this final fabric, so I made a collage of the various files that I had played around with until I got a final version.

fabric development image

I started with a photo of a single hibiscus bloom, which I extracted from the background. Then I played around with the pattern repeat, and tried some of the various filters like colored pencil or cartoon, to manipulate the flower. I thought about extracting the shapes and then coloring it in but that seemed quite difficult. It seemed to need more to the pattern so I added the same flower in different sizes and layers. Once I had a layout of the various flowers I liked then I used the mosaic filter. That looked Ok but seemed to need a different background. So I tried different backgrounds and thought the royal blue was pretty against the pinks of the flowers. Adding back the mosaic filter I then changed the pattern repeat orientation and had my final jpeg to upload to their site.

Here is the fabric before cutting. This is their cotton sateen - which is quite lightweight. Most cotton sateens I buy are much heavier, I find that this fabric is much more similar to a cotton voile. As I mentioned in one of my prior posts about My Fabric Designs, if you are interested I strongly suggest you order the swatch book which is $ 5.00 and has good size swatches of all their fabrics so you can actually see what the fabric feels like and how the colors print on the various fibers.

hibiscus fabric yardage

A closer look at the linen placket. I really love the colors in this fabric. When I first ordered it I only ordered one yard - as I was still figuring out how to use the site, and my mother saw it and said "oh I would love a top in that fabric!". So I ordered more, this time 2 yards so that I would have enough to make the top. The second piece of yardage is the exact same print as the first so that is a nice result. I can use the remainder from her top and then the original 1 yard to make something for myself :)

hibiscus top front detail

hibiscus top on forn front2hibiscus top back on form

I have a piece of silk fabric that I ordered and the more I look at it the more I like it - consequently I am unable to decide how to use it, other than a top. I have 2 yards so plenty for a summer top, or even a long sleeve blouse. Pattern paralysis. Although it is kind of a summery color. I was at Nordstroms yesterday and took a spin around the designer department - I love to do that, inspecting all the high end stuff. In particular petting the Armani Collezioni. Yummy fabrics and soft tailoring. But I say a couple of Rebecca Taylor tops, very similar to the Vogue patterns of her designs, so I'm leaning that way.

As for this fabric - I might just make another tunic top for myself!

hibiscus tunit cop on me1

Here are links to the other items I have made using fabric from My Fabric Designs.

Cotton Poplin summer dress

Cotton knit skirt and top

and here are links to a lot of different tunic tops.
Cotton voile tunic top
Garment clone tunic top - this is the first one I did.
Rayon fabric from Girl Charlee tunic top - scroll to middle of post.
Quilting cotton tunic top

and there are others but those are the ones made from this basic pattern. I wasn't that big of a fan of the tunic top style  - I always thought it looked a bit 70's caftan, and not in a good way. But safe to say I am now a convert, in the right fabric it is a really great wardrobe addition.

More tops coming up on the blog next, as I am trying to make separates after my recent run of dresses. Not that a dress didn't sneak in there - which is a Vogue designer pattern repeat too! I will leave you guessing as to which one.

Stay cool  - I think there is a heat wave just about everywhere in the US. And to prove that the SF Bay Area has a zillion different climate zones, plus further proof that tourists should always pack a jacket I give you my iPhone screen caps from last night at 6pm. My house vs. SF downtown. And I could be there in about 25 minutes so it is not very far (with no traffic - I calculate all distances using the no traffic baseline. Which might explain why I am often late. We are getting like LA around here, the traffic is madness!)

Yes, 102˚F at 6pm. and now today is supposed to be hotter!  After all we console ourselves with the time worn phrase "at least there's no humidity." Hey, I wish for summer so I can't complain. The tomatoes are ripe and my basil is growing like crazy. Last night I made some crispy pizza with basil, yellow tomatoes and goat cheese and then sliced it up and put it in the freezer. Perfect for a quick appetizer one of these warm evenings.

Happy summer sewing, Beth


Thursday, July 21, 2016

House of Pinheiro Brasilia dress, version 2 in cotton sateen and some info on ribbon

To my great surprise a lot of you commented on my previous post - adding your voice in the debate between ruffle or trim. And the vote was fairly evenly split with perhaps a slight majority for ruffle. Which really surprised me - I didn't think anyone would like that at all.

Speaking of voting - it's a long way until November with only a brief interlude of the Olympics to distract us. Please distract us!!! Thank goodness for the Olympics, I love them. The hunky swimmers, the amazing gymnasts, the split second drama on the track and so many other great contests. The broadcast does have a lot to get through but I do wish they would show a bit more of some of the less well known sports. Like synchronized swimming. Weird but fascinating. What sport do you like to watch?

OK back to sewing. This is another item that I sewed in order to illustrate the topic for a Craftsy Sewing blog post. And a pattern repeat. When I first sewed this dress I did plan to come back to it and it has taken me 2 years but here it is.

This is the Brasilia dress by House of Pinheiro, also know as Rachel, if you read her blog. I made this in 2014 and did a lot of pattern fitting. Here is the link to my fitting post and then the finished dress post is here. It is only available in one size but it is not all that difficult to fit, plus it has that interesting seaming in the front.

ribbon dress on form front bodice

I used this slightly juvenile cotton sateen with 2% spandex. Which has been marinating in my stash for a while because I could only envision it as a children's dress. But one day I decided the flowers were hibiscus, which is tropical, which is just my style. Kind of a Tori Richard look (my favorite Hawaiian designer - their fabrics are so gorgeous). Plus I had the right color of ribbon in my ribbon box - purchased for something else but nice for this project. That is how my Craftsy blog posts go - either I am making something already and use that for a post or I want to do a post and then rummage around for the raw materials among stuff I already have.

Ribbon dress1

Here is the dress form pic so you can see the actual colors. I did make one change which was to lower the front neckline about 1/2 inch, since I felt the original was a bit high for my comfort, and then I decided to add the V neckline detail, which is super easy as there is the center front seam.

ribbon dress on form front

In case you can't tell - my post for Craftsy was about sewing with ribbon. I have a lot of ribbon which I always think I will use but so far not so much. The occasional ribbon sash or something like that but doing this post got me thinking about it and I have some ideas for incorporating a ribbon accent into a shirt.

craftsy photo ribbon post

I read a post by Nakisha recently and she was commenting on the type of ribbon found on a ready to wear skirt that she had. I am pretty sure it is petersham ribbon which is quite different from grosgrain in how it behaves. You can shape petersham ribbon with the iron as you can see in the photo above, you could not do it with grosgrain. It is kind of hard to find petersham in chain type fabric stores but I am lucky that Stone Mountain has lots, plus I think you can find it at various places on line. Be sure to get petersham if you want to do this treatment.

On the left, mint green is the petersham - see how the edge is not finished. The grosgrain (light blue) on the right has that distinctive ridge and you could not bend or shape that no matter how hard you try.

grosgrain and petersham

petersham ribbon  example

Other than adding the ribbon this was a very straightforward project - my pattern was all fitted and I just had to sew it up. I put an all-in-one neckline and armhole facing of white cotton which I sewed, pulled the dress through the shoulder seams to have a clean finish and then under stitched where possible. I am a big believer in under stitching, never skip that. I sewed the ribbon on the neck edge first and thought that would do it, thinking maybe some on the hemline. But once it all finished but the hem I thought it needed the ribbon around the armholes as well. So that is sewn through the facing. Not that it makes any difference. And no ribbon on the hemline - just didn't need it. I do a lot of evaluating as I sew - sometimes walk away from things or leave them on the dress form so I see them as I walk by and get ideas for changes in proportion or shaping that way. In any case - I rarely sew up a pattern as is so those ideas need a little time to percolate:)

Back view, it is a simple sheath dress with waist darts. I did tighten up the center back seam about an inch at the very top as the first version gaped a bit there.

ribbon dress on form back

This is such a perfect summer daytime dress for me - great for hot weather which we are supposed to have plenty of this weekend. I tried to make it a bit more fitted, sometimes I think I make things a bit too loose as I have a mania about stuff that is too tight, so like Goldilocks says - this one is just right.

dress with ribbon1

Just to prove that now and then I do like a ruffle, and that I am no stranger to wild tropical print cotton sateen, here is a link to a previous summer dress. Which I really like but every time I think of wearing it I feel that I will be dazzling people with the bright colors. So what, right?

Sports. Ribbon. Wild tropical fabrics. All over the map in this post. As I said I have more ideas for using ribbon - as embellishment and also to create a lattice detail. Not sure if I will get to them but it's good to have those ideas swirling around.

Happy Summer weekend - unless you are in the southern hemisphere, (talking to you Australia) where I have a sneaking suspicion that your winter is a lot like ours here in the bay area. In the sense that you can sew and wear a cute coat and get those gloves and scarves out, more for fashion than anything else but don't have to worry about frostbite or the polar express. Or maybe I have that all wrong. Anyway - we are heading in to the 100's ˚F so I plan to float in the pool and maybe catch up on some novels.


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