Monday, September 18, 2017

Knit dress: Pauline Alice patterns Aldaia dress

September means vacation to me, and I just returned from a glorious and relaxing time in Hawaii. With quite minimal time on-line - and that might have been the best part. While I love keeping up to date it does feel that sometimes looking at screens has overtaken actually doing things - whether for work or leisure. I didn't bring my laptop - and decided not do much else, not even take many pictures. Which left me free to watch other people taking pictures  - with the reward of seeing a lot of other people have some "oops" moments. Is that mean to say? It is funny to see someone walk into a pole because they are too focused on their selfie stick. Of course at the beach there is the possibility of seeing a phone go dunk in the ocean. Ok, call me cruel but it was funny...

Anyway,  I will admit that having an iPad loaded with books does have it's advantages. Years ago my dad would just shake his head at the quantity and weight of books that I would pack, but what can you do? a three week vacation sitting on the beach, reading, swimming and breaking for ice cream is just about heaven to me but it does require bringing plenty of books. So e-books do have that advantage. Although I do miss the days of buying $1 used books at the library and saving them up for travel.  

With teaching classes at Hello Stitch, doing private lessons and sewing for a couple of people I really needed to step away from the sewing machine but now I'm rested and have plenty of posts to catch up on. I will be teaching a class on Knit dresses starting Oct 21 so I wanted to sew this up and see how it goes together. My verdict - super cute and I am about to cut out another one, a winter version. Note that for the class another option is the Turner dress by Cashmerette patterns.

This photo is kind of blurry and has a strange exposure - I took it with the timer on my iPad. I also think I took some of these pictures on a day when it was over 100˚F so they were of the quick dash outside for photos and be done with it variety.

red white dress 6

It looks much better on the dress form. You can see that it is a true red and bright white print. I actually made this as a test version, the piece of fabric has been sitting in the closet for at least 2 years. I ordered it from Girl Charlee and when it arrived I thought it was a bit too busy - even for me. Also I just couldn't picture it as anything. However the weight of it was perfect for this pattern so I decided to give it a go.

red white dress front view
red white knit dress back view

Once I saw it on the dress form I really like the fabric - although it still is a bit wild.

Here's the pattern, it is shown on the envelope with these three variations but in actuality you can mix and match all the skirt, bodice and sleeve combinations to come up with a lot of different looks.

Aldaia dress pattern envelope

Aldaia dress options

I copied this image from Pauline's blog to show the mix and match options  - and it also would work well for color blocking.

I sewed size 40 which is what I have used in her patterns before and the fit was really good. The neckband fit perfectly which is a nice feature. I also can see using this pattern as the starting point for a knit tee shirt.
red white knit dress side view

My fabric was a slightly strange width, it had a big white unprinted section on either selvedge so the actual usable part was nearing to 50" wide. Because of this and only having 2 yards I had to reduce the width of the skirt, so I just pinched out about 2 inches from each skirt piece at the hem and then tapered that pinch to zero at the waist. And I don't even miss the fullness, in fact it seems right to me so I am not going to add it back for the next one.

Other sewing details, I just sew knits on the regular sewing machine, with straight stitch. However - this dress has a very fitted waist, and after I basted it together I realized that I couldn't get it over my shoulders unless I used some type of stretch stitch. So I sewed the waist seam and the side seams with a small zig-zag and that was just right. I think I lengthened it about 2 inches so as designed it is kind of short.

Another not so great photo - and the sky was really that color on the day when the fires in N. California were making very smoky and grey all over. Glad that has cleared up.

red white dress 8

Last weekend was my knit t-shirt class at Hello Stitch and it was full with some people on the waitlist so we are scheduling another session sometime in November. And coming up soon is the one I am really excited about - the weekend Jacket Essentials workshop. I am planning lots of demos of techniques and hands-on practice to making the perfect tailored jacket. For some of the other classes, like the Button-front shirt, knit tee, skirt, dress and Fit Lab, these will be regularly on the calendar so check the Hello Stitch website. We are usually scheduling about 2-3 months out.

Next up is my birthday dress - my personal tradition to make a summer sundress type item to wear on vacation (nice how that all fits together, huh?) and then some giveaways, plus the Pattern Whisperer returns!

Summer is gone next week, right? on the 22nd autumn begins....and I am always sad. Fall sewing - not a thrill, as you know by now that perpetual summer would be fine with me. However I do have some beautiful wools that I am ready to get working on, so I guess I will allow this change of season and temperature (like it is up to me, ha!) For now I will enjoy the fact that it is still shorts and tee-shirts weather :)

So for those of you who are excited for fall sewing and wearing boots, scarves, sweaters, layers etc, I say...what is wrong with you?  Well, to each her own sewing style and season. I look forward to seeing whatever you make!

Happy September Sewing,

What better post to use this two-tone dahlia than with this two-tone dress? I have been waiting to post this one. This was a great year for my dahlias and I have plans for even more next year.



Monday, September 4, 2017

Latest posts on the Craftsy sewing blog and some sneak peeks of latest projects

I've done so many posts on the Craftsy blog this summer that I've kind of lost track, and I like to link to them here in case you are interested in reading them.  I've been trying to multi-task in a big way and chosen topics to write about that go along with things I'm preparing for teaching classes at Hello Stitch, and feel so clever when I can do one project and use it for multiple things 😊.

So here are some recent posts on the Craftsy blog. It always interests me which ones get a lot of comments, and which ones get pinned or shared more than others. I can never tell which will have the most readers before I do them, which probably keeps me on my toes!

Craftsy Sewing Blog Posts

➜ Note that I don't write the titles, nor the little excerpt that introduces the post. Well, sometimes I do, the "floppy facings" title I will take credit for...after all, that's what they are, sometimes.

Links to the post appear below each one in blue.


How and why to Understitch 

floppy facings post photo

Tame Floppy Facings

shirt collars

2 Ways to attach a collar to a shirt

sew even hems

Tips for sewing even hems

make the most of your fabric

Make the most of your fabric

I used that white/red knit fabric just to stage the photo above of cutting out a knit top - and then promptly put it back in the fabric cupboard. Then I was working on some things for my upcoming classes, and it turned out to be the perfect fabric for one of my upcoming classes. So here's a sneak peek of a finished item, which I sewed as an example for my upcoming Knit Dresses class at Hello Stitch. 

Knit dress

And another finished object, using this fantastic citrus print sateen I found at Mood fabrics. Just a peek, and I will post it soon. Can you guess the pattern I used? Hint - a repeat, of course.

citrus dress peek

Upcoming in September and October I have some fun classes at Hello Stitch - well, they are fun for me to get deep into the details of jacket making, shirts, knit tops etc!

The leaves are actually falling already however today is the first day in about five days that the temperature was below 100˚F here  (yes it was 113˚F one day, eek!)  and so it doesn't seem like fall. And I am NOT about to start fall sewing.  So stay tuned for as many summer items as I can squeeze in.

Happy Sewing,

Today's garden photo - this little sunflower was a volunteer that popped up in a not so sunny spot.

sunflowers etc

Friday, August 25, 2017

Charlie Caftan in Silk Charmeuse

There are certain fabrics that say luxury to me. Perhaps top of that list is silk charmeuse. It just feels so luscious when you wear it, like a gossamer but has that substance and depth of color that is found in silk.  I just clicked the dictionary to make sure I spelled charmeuse correctly, and it says "from French: feminine of charmeur, "charmer" to charm".  Well that seems apt, it is a feminine and charming fabric that can be sewed up into so many different things.

But when your friend goes shopping at Mood and brings back a stack of very disparate fabrics some of them get set aside until inspiration strikes. Thus this very bold silk charmeuse print was purchased by my friend Heather in July of 2015, but we could not come up with an ides of what to make with it. It really is a panel print, which repeats about every 5 feet, and had a 2" geometric border on either selvedge that I didn't use. There are some good size pieces remaining which might make perfect sleeve linings for a hidden touch of whimsy in a plain coat or jacket.

But one day I happened to be showing her some various patterns online and she caught a glimpse of the Charlie Caftan pattern and said "that's it!"

silk caftan H front view2

A bold choice but I think she was right. It turned out perfectly for lounging around at home or perhaps wearing during cocktail hour at some beachy resort. (doesn't that sound great and we all wish were there at said resort right now!)

We will have to make do with photos in my backyard but you get the idea. The caftan is definitely loose fitting and doesn't have a lot of shaping. Before I cut into this unique fabric I made a muslin using an old sheet. Which very much resembled a hospital gown. And needed some additional shaping for sure.

silk caftan H side view

On the slightly side view you can see some shaping which I achieved by adding a bust dart. It's not difficult to do on this pattern but if you have a full bust or just want it to be a little less block-y here's what I did.

Caftan pattern pattern alterations copy

This is the order that I made these adjustments, and if you are interested I suggest you make a first muslin, work out the dart and then you will be good to go.

  1. Sliced pattern horizontally perpendicular to the center bodice seam. I added 2.5" of length which is shown by the aqua section.
  2. Created a bust dart, shown in pink. I made the width of the dart equal to the amount I added in the horizontal section, so that the front would stay matched to the back. I ignored the arm opening when adding the dart, deciding to adjust that later.
  3. Note that the dart points upwards slightly. I marked the bust apex on my first muslin (the one with no adjustments, and angled the dart from that point downwards slightly to the side seam. (Few things bug me more than completely horizontal darts - to my eye they look jarring and like something on a kid's crayon drawing). 
  4. Armhole opening - the blue line drawn through the side seam is the original pattern, the sleeve opening was quite low (and is even lower on the other version in the pattern envelope) So with the dart and just for comfort I raised that about 1 inch. 
  5. Shortened the sleeve by 1/2". It's not really a sleeve, more of a cut-on sleeve but in any case it seemed a bit long. Note if you shorten the sleeve you have to adjust the hem allowance, see that angle at the outer edge, it needs that for the turn back of the hem.  Same change on the back piece. 
  6. No other changes except I lengthen the dress by two inches. It is very mini to start with so if you don't want a mini you might have to add. What is mini on tall people is knee length on the rest of us :).  I outlined the front pleat here in black but I didn't make any changes to any other portion of the pattern. 
Here's a look at the pattern piece before adjustment, you can see the bodice area is going to be a bit square-ish which is fine if you don't need any shaping.

pattern view caftan

Charlie Caftan pattern envelope image

Here's the pattern in case you haven't seen this one. This is the first Closet Case pattern I have sewn and I don't really have any feedback - didn't really look at the cutting layout or instructions except to check how I was doing the pleat in the front. A pattern with this many sizes is both beneficial in that the size range is wide but distinguishing between all those lines gets a little hard to see. I found the same thing on Sewaholic and Jalie patterns but I suppose that is the trade off for getting all the sizes.

Here's a look a the dress on the form so the bust dart is visible, but not really noticeable, if that makes sense. It does it's job but is not really obvious. Also note the dart point is a good 2 inches away from the bust point, another pet peeve, bust darts that are too long and end up looking a bit headlight-y.

bodice close up silk caftan

A look on the dress form. This is one of those garments that look so much better when worn than on the form. You can see the fabric a bit of a puzzle, and I didn't want any bullseye effects so I was really careful with the print placement. As it happens the busy part with the squares is across the bottom so that worked well.

silk caftan front on formsilk caftan back on form

Sewing detail,actually cutting details, I cut everything out in one layer and did all the marks with tailor's tacks on each piece before I picked up the pattern piece to move it and cut the mirror image. It might seem like extra work but actually when everything is flat it is easier to mark rather than move the pieces and then have to lay flat, try to match up two pieces and do the markings.

silk caftan cutting out

I am so glad to get this fabric sewn up and a glamorous version of the caftan was a perfect idea.

silk caften H front view

Now I just need to make a dent in some of the fabrics I brought back from Mood in October of 2016! I have a few ideas percolating and autumn is approaching.

Up next, some late entries to the summer sundress wardrobe,  plus doing some pattern testing for a coat for which seems crazy as it is supposed to be over 100˚F for the next 7 days in a row. !!! Oh well I need to enjoy it because summer is on the way out. But we will hang on until October here in N.California and pretend we have endless summer. Well, we almost do 😎 thank goodness, I couldn't live in the frozen tundra (talking to you, Minnesota).

Happy end of summer sewing, 

today's garden photo, a yellow dinner plate dahlia. Not quite a dinner plate, but a good 8" across. 
Plus plenty of blooms - this one is a keeper. 


Thursday, August 17, 2017

Pattern Whisperer returns, Jacket making class details, and a new eyelet top

Topics for Today:
-- The Pattern Whisperer returns!
-- more details on what I will cover in my upcoming jacket weekend class
-- a new eyelet top from an old pattern

Hey everyone - you really like those Random Threads posts!! Which I knew but that last post certainly had a lot of commenters - so fun to read what everyone said. After all, sewing can be a solitary sport and sometimes late at night with seam ripper in hand we can all wonder if our fellow stitchers have the same observations, pet peeves or just laugh at the same things. The answer seems to be yes.
I will try to do a Random Threads at least once a month, which shouldn't be too difficult as I always have something to wonder and/or grumble about.

Onward to another popular topic - Pattern Whisperer. My first pattern whisperer was a very specific post for one person, my subsequent ones have be more general pattern recommendations but let's go back to the beginning. Not this week but perhaps later in September I will open it up and choose a couple of people to make specific pattern recommendations. By then we will be heading into holiday/festive season sewing so think party dress, check your stash and prepare to make your case as to why you should be pattern whispered. Stay tuned and wait for that post.

Sewing Class: Jacket Essentials
We have scheduled a Weekend Intensive Class for Jacket/Coat making at Hello Stitch Studio in Berkeley, Sat. Sept 30 and Sun. Oct 1. Each day's session will be from 10 am-4 pm with open studio time until 8:00 pm so you can continue working on your project. Lunch and snacks are included. I think it will be really fun and a great way to spend a weekend with other stitch enthusiasts, plus you will have a great new jacket or coat ready for fall.
I've had a few questions on what I will cover so thought I would talk about my plans here.

Firstly, I have selected a few coat and jacket patterns that don't require a huge amount of fitting, yet have interesting collars, pockets and buttonholes so we can review loads of techniques. The goal of the class is to learn to work with coat and jacket weight fabrics, use plenty of fusible interfacing for modern tailoring and be able to tackle all the ins and out of pressing, clipping, welt pockets or buttonholes and adding the lining. So I am recommending these patterns (or something similar if you already have a pattern) that you can sew up in your chosen size - with maybe some minor fit changes such as grading between sizes or adding some length.

Looking around I found these two fantastic ones from a pattern company that I have always wanted to try: Waffle patterns.

Waffle Bamboo coat

This is their Bamboo coat pattern. The version with collar/lapel is great for learning to do that construction and the proportions of both designs look so ideal to me. Plus welt pockets and set in sleeves.  I see on their website that they are having a special 15 euros (no idea how long it will be on) for the actual paper pattern printed on large format paper and that includes the shipping. For a coat it would be nice to skip the printing and taping! This would sew up well in so many different types and weights of wool fabrics, from lightweight to full-on coating.

Another option from Waffle is the Yuzu jacket pattern.

Waffle Yuzu coat

A cocoon shape with raglan sleeves and pocket options. She also has a free pattern download to add a hood which looks very cozy.

Butterick 6423
B6423 coat Butterick Lisette

This one is also a loose fit coat with cool pockets that are a feature of the front seaming. Also that big collar reminds me of my Burda jacket with the portrait collar that feels very glamorous to wear on a cold winter day.

Even though these three patterns are quite different they all share some features that I want to demonstrate in the class, based around using various types of fusible interfacing, how to apply, which to choose, where to put it and on and on. Also pressing is one of my favorite things to do (yes, sewing nerd here) but it makes SUCH a difference in how the garment turns out. I am guessing if you have seen a coat or jacket somewhere in sewing world and thought it was nice but something wasn't quite right - I will bet money that the issue would be pressing during construction.

I plan to do lots of demos and have some hands-on practice of things like welt pockets or bound buttonholes, trimming/clipping and hand stitching techniques.

So if you are in the area I hope to see you in September for a weekend of jacket making fun. Actually we have lots of classes scheduled for Sept. and October. I am really thrilled that people are signing up for additional classes after taking their first one, that makes me feel great. We have the button front shirt class again at the end of Oct......

So, speaking of button front shirts, I have once again use my trusty Simplicity 2339 which is an Amazing Fit pattern (out of print, boo hoo) that I use to make any and all shirts. This pattern is getting quite ragged, but I think I could make it in my sleep. But sometimes I use the pattern as a jumping off point to make a different type of woven shirt.

green eyelet top1

It must be Taco Tuesday if I am standing in front of a Mexican restaurant. Why, yes it was 😋. Is this a California thing? It could be every day as far as I am concerned. Side note: I heard a news story that the price of avocados possibly may double due to the after effects of our long drought - so I will have to start setting aside some mad money for my avocado addiction. I eat a LOT of them, so delicious.

I bought this fabric at Joann's on one of those whims where it was super extra double coupon discounted (not the accurate term but you get my drift) so a couple of yard for less than $ 10. It is SO hard to find nice eyelet in interesting colors. Then I thought why-oh-why did I get something I really don't need. Enter the super simple sleeveless top derived from my Simplicity shirt pattern.

green eyelet top front on form

Sewing details:  the bust darts are turned into shoulder gathers, I included the waist darts as this fabric is a bit stiff and needs help in shaping, the neckline was just me winging it with my french curve ruler and then I used the selvedge edge of the fabric where there is no embroidery as a design detail down the center front as well as the edge finish on the inside.

Which you can see below.

The binding is some cotton fabric I found after a deep rummage in my cotton scraps box, enough to make the bias strips needed. I stitched it on and then hand sewed the edge for both the neck and armholes.

green eyelet top inside view

green eyelet top close up

Not bad, huh? I kinda like it although I wish the fabric was a little bit softer. But the color is one of my favorites, and I have wanted an eyelet summer top ever since I made this one. Also this top looks nice with my Mirambell skirt.

So that's the scoop. Funny how I make a new top like this and end up wearing it many times in a row, such as last night (meeting up with my Italian speaking pals for conversazione, which could also be called Wine Wednesday, ha!)

And on to the next thing. I have been sewing up a storm for other people, squeezing in a few projects for myself and am waiting to reveal a thrift store refashion that hopefully will be a success.

Happy Summer Sewing,

Today's garden photo, this one is a bit of a thrill as I have tried with Clematis several times to no avail, but this year I planted another one and look, a flower! OK only one but it is in a pot and rather spindly. However I can move it when the frost hits and hopefully baby it through the winter. But that color, love it!


Friday, August 4, 2017

Random Threads # 28

Hey it's been quite a while since the last Random Threads post - my notebook page is filled up with topics to discuss.

What have I been up to? Teaching classes at Hello Stitch Studio - each class takes a bit of thought beforehand, sewing up samples to illustrate various techniques or just to work out how to demonstrate things. This week I had a class on sewing button front shirts which I cleverly combined (ha ha) with writing a post for Craftsy on the topic: how to attach the collar. Some sewing for others, which I don't do for a lot of people, just a few that I enjoy working with. A little pattern testing for my favorite indie pattern designer (Pauline Alice patterns). Some planning for fall sewing - including making up a sample jacket for an upcoming class. Jacket weekend! I am often asked about doing a class for sewing jackets so check it out on the Hello Stitch website if you are interested.

Which brings me to my first topic - How long does it take you to cut something out? I realize that I've been sewing for ages plus I am one of those people who do things fast whether it is washing the dishes or reading a book, or walking through a store. But I am realizing that the cutting out part of making a garment takes a good chunk of time. And it doesn't need to! Mostly I try to get people to be less tentative with the scissors. Tiny half inch snips are going to take forever when cutting a long center back seam. Trust your coordination and use the whole scissors. Get sharp scissors, pin enough so the pattern piece doesn't shift but not every 3 inches. Relax, breathe. Cutting out should be less painful. Also my last tip - before the first cut, step back, look it over, review all the pieces and then proceed with confidence. Does cutting out stress you out?

Ready to Wear isn't perfect either.  A friend of mine bought a dress that needed shortening, so I had her stand still while I marked the hem all around. I usually run a thread trace around where I have put the line of pins so I can remove the pins, have a temporary but stable hem indicator, and then I can hem it whenever without concern that the pins will come out.

uneven hem on blue dress

Granted that few of us are perfectly evenly built, most of us have a higher hip or lower shoulder that affects the hem. When I looked at the two side seams I had pinned up so much more on one side. It made me question my work and it seemed that I was drastically folding up one side seam more than the other. For some reason I thought - check the side seams and look, one side seam is about 3/4" longer than the other. On a $ 500 dress! Mystery solved and my ego stroked about my own precise sewing :)

Sewing verbiage around the world. My fellow Americans, does it sound strange to you when you read that something has an "elasticated" waist? That sounds so weird to me. I would say elastic waist. Don't get me started on the phrase "my make". I know it's popular but it makes me want to tear my hair out. I love the Great British Baking show and they say "bring your bakes" to the table. So has this verb into noun conversion taken over the UK?  Reading blogs written by people all over the world is great fun but when I stumble across one of these weird to me grammatical constructions I stop short and gnash my teeth momentarily. Probably silly I know but just one of those pet peeves. I am imagining a UK reader of sewing blogs with a pet peeve along the lines of "those annoying Yanks boasting about their 10 for $ 10 pattern sales" Or maybe we have some grammar quirk that gets under their skin. Just for curiosity I would love to know what American idioms annoy you on a sewing blog.

An interesting life: Lucy Spector, one of the founding owners of Britex Fabrics in San Francisco passed away recently and the San Francisco Chronicle had a long obituary on her. She had such an interesting life and great style. If you like to read about successful women in business when that was more of a rarity check it out.

When I make a mistake it usually is a whopper: as evidenced by this picture.

pink linen dress yoke mistake

The story here is that I was making a pattern from an existing dress for a sewing client. The pattern making turned out very well especially considering it was a complicated dress with lots of pieces (actually more pieces can be easier to reproduce). So I was feeling very pleased wth myself and started sewing up a test version in this bubblegum pink cotton? linen? unidentified fabric in my stash that was a good candidate for this type of dress. And thought, I will sew it for real with serging and everything in case someone wants it. The dress has a front and back yoke where the body pieces attach. So you can see that I cleverly attached the dress front to the yoke front not even noticing that the back yoke had a lovely 360˚ twist - no that is not a design feature. aaarrrgh!! Had to detach the dress front including undoing that serging, untwist and start again. Better to discover it now rather than later I guess:)

Here are three things that I don't care about: Wardrobe planning - inspiration boards - sewing basics. These often go together and if I see articles or blog posts I am likely to pass them by. Do you find these topics interesting? The sewing or wardrobe pieces are typically so....well, basic. These often go with a new pattern release that is super simple (perhaps you know which pattern company I might be referring to) and I think "after all that navel gazing THAT is the new pattern you came up with? For $ 18???"  As I often say - I am not the target market for this type of clothing but really, semi-new stitchers - stretch yourself a little and find some patterns with an interesting details. And no, a split hem detail on a top does not indicate an interesting detail.  Is that enough from your grumpy sewing correspondent? Because...

The Mood Fabrics blog shows some truly odd stuff - I DO NOT mean the Mood Sewing Network, which showcases a lot of great home sewers who are very accomplished and choose really nice fabrics, sew up stuff I want and inspire me to shop the Mood website. But they have another blog, which you can click to on the bottom of their store website, Mood Sewciety, more of a DIY with fabrics and I find the stuff they show seriously questionable. The stuff rarely fits, the sewing is sloppy and who are they inspiring with that?   On a different note - I have ordered a few things from Mood this summer and they have all been great.

More notches! I don't know where I found this blog but she posts some interesting things and her point of view is as a trained pattern designer and dressmaker. She mostly does children's wear and tries a number of PDF patterns but her comments and critiques on those patterns also apply to anyone designing and selling patterns. Her recent post "Why are pattern notches missing in PDF patterns?" was really interesting and explains some things I have been wondering. These past few months I had been sewing a number of indie patterns and hmmmm....I'm not all that impressed. Sometimes the instructions, which are designed to handhold someone learning the new construction techniques are really wordy, more confusing than a good diagram with arrows and steps indicated. (large, please. Tiny, pale, cute, slightly cartoonish diagrams help nobody even though they may look stylish or match your brand esthetic).

Wearing something which strays from your typical style: a few people commented on my last blog post and on Instagram that my most recent sewing project, the Mirambell skirt from Pauline Alice patterns was an unusual style for me. While it is black, a color I rarely sew or wear, the silhouette seemed like something I have sewn quite a few times before. I wonder what it was that seemed different? The full skirt? Here's an example of that style which I've made although this one is a bit eye-searing. Or this one, the first Bootstrap Fashion pattern that I sewed. I've been trying to expand my sewing choices and sew different shapes or even colors with some mixed success. My preliminary finding is that if I am lukewarm on a color no matter how nicely a garment turns out I will not be excited to wear it.

That's all for today, I covered almost all my topics. I saw a couple of new things that I will save for a future post, including new Fall pattern releases from Vogue and Simplicity. (quick comment - Vogue some interesting stuff but not a thing that makes me want to buy it now in the heat of summer. Simplicity, a couple of really good coat patterns that I might recommend when it gets closer to coat time).

Sneak peek of something I just finished, I'm on an eyelet kick this summer.

green eyelet top

We're hopefully at the tail end of another 100˚F heat wave here - although when I drive over to Hello Stitch which is about 15 min. from my house the temperature can be a good 20˚F lower. The bay area summer! a mystery to visitors and bring a sweatshirt because it is cold by the ocean (in the best possible way :).

So I am not thinking about fall sewing, we have a good 2 more months of summery weather ahead. How about you?

Happy summer sewing, and stay cool!  

I'm off to swim now and disregard my garden which must fend for itself in these lazy summer days. Fortunately the dahlias do their own thing and always surprise me with the color of the blooms. I plant them but don't label so what comes up in each spot is a very pleasant surprise.

sunset pink dahlia


Tuesday, July 25, 2017

Mirambell Skirt from Pauline Alice Patterns

Once in a while I make something and feel like it just needs a little extra zing. Perhaps I chose a fabric that didn't thrill me, often this happens when it's something that many would consider a wardrobe basic, in a neutral color. For me that often means I'm not so enamored of the item. Wardrobe basics are just not my idea of fun sewing (or wearing).

So recently I made the Mirambell skirt from Pauline Alice to test the pattern for her. She is my favorite independent pattern designer and I have never gone wrong with one of her patterns. However I was perilously close with this one. Cut to the chase - I think it is so pretty! I am actually in the process of making a couple of tops to wear with it - because I know I will want to wear it a lot.

Beth wearing Mirambel skirt

Look, I make something in black! that I plan to wear immediately. Perhaps I can see why separates in neutral tones are a worthwhile item, as they can go with other things in the wardrobe.

This skirt is really cute! And it has lovely pockets which are ideal for a full skirt like this. It comes in two different versions, the one I made is View A, which has a center back zipper that goes up to the top of the waistband. View B buttons at the center front. I think in a soft rayon print the button up version would be really cute and summery.

Mirambel skirt pattern envelope

I never really pay attention to the length of patterns, as I don't wear longish skirts much (ever) so when I cut this out I used some black cotton sateen I had in the stash, and chose a length based on some other skirts I wear (shortening the actual pattern pieces since it was going to be a test of sorts) The pleats and pockets sewed together perfectly. However - it seemed a bit short - no fault of the pattern, entirely my own. So I send off my report to Pauline with some notes about pattern markings and then it sat on my dress form, without being hemmed.

Cue the inspiration of Instagram, I saw a picture my friend Laura Mae posted, and had the idea to put an eyelet border at the bottom. I love dresses and skirts with a wide contrast border at the hem edge (I keep planning to make a dress like that) and I had a piece of black eyelet so I cut a long piece about 5 inches wide and basted it on for a look-see. And I was sold. In fact I cut off about another two inches of the skirt, sewed on the eyelet band and then played around with the length. For this type of skirt it should be on the longer side, and then I wanted a good bit of the eyelet at the hem border.

Mirambel skirt close up on me

My fabric has a lot of body since it is a cotton sateen, and then stitching the eyelet which is rather stiff on the edge means that this skirt keeps this A-line shape. I think if you used a softer fabric like a woven rayon it would be really nice and flowy, a completely different look.

Extremely dorky picture so you can see how wide the skirt is at the hem. That top is not the best with it as the placket comes down too near the waistband - but I have corrected that situation by making an eyelet top in a fantastic color - will post soon.

Mirambel skirt pleat viewr

Skirt prior to eyelet band at hem. See, it definitely needed a little something. Which reminds me I haven't blogged that top, which makes a nice pair with this skirt however it has long sleeves so perhaps not something I will wear here in August. Plus bonus content - a peek at how I let all scraps and threads fall onto the floor. A habit that is very hard to break when I am teaching at Hello Stitch :)

mirambel skirt before eyelet edge

mirambel back and side view

This is how I hemmed the skirt - with my scissors. So liberating. No stitching just slicing. And if you look at Laura Mae's you will see she cut hers differently, so that each little circle has the smaller circles still attached, whereas I cut off the edge at each large circle. And that was difficult enough to do. Later I looked at her IG again, and tried on a scrap to do it as she did, kinda difficult. On the plus side, this eyelet is very on grain and straight so both sewing it on and then trimming it was very straightforward, as long as I stuck to a specific row of circles.

trimming eyelet for Mirambel skirt

So that's the latest Pauline Alice pattern that has become a wardrobe success! I love it and will try to find some softer fabric to make a very different version.

For the other Pauline Alice patterns I have sewn, here are the links.

Alameda Dress - for a wild print I wear this surprisingly often. And the skirt by itself a lot. It is so cute - she is really good with the feminine details.

Quart Coat - this was for a friend, and I was quite jealous and wished I could keep it for myself. There are several posts covering the construction that coat, Part 1, Part 2, Part 3

Saler Jacket - I was amazed at how often I wore this jacket last fall. I made it at the beginning of summer so it wasn't really the right season for a wool blazer but when October arrived I wore it all the time, perfect with jeans. I need to make another one, I'm thinking stretch wool.

I really recommend Pauline Alice patterns. I rarely make any indie patterns, mostly because they often look the same to me but Pauline adds a lot of details which make them fun to sew and wear.

Mirambel skirt on me sq

Quick update on classes for those of you who have made it to the bottom of this post - we have just scheduled a bunch of classes at Hello Stitch for September and October, including...the Weekend Jacket Intensive. I am SO excited to do this class - and show a mix of modern and traditional techniques for great results on tailored jackets, or coats. Sat. Sept 30 and Sun. Oct 2 with the studio available on Friday evening for prep, cutting out, etc. We are going to make a fun weekend of it with food, interfacing kits etc. I don't think it is listed yet on their site - will be very soon. But if you have any questions just email me directly.

Tomorrow evening is the first session of my button front shirt class - which also will be repeated in October. Plus a few other things on my calendar so I better say bye and get some sleep.

Happy Sewing, Beth

today's garden photo - this salvia is called "hot lips". It's looking a bit spindly now, I think I will move it to a better location when it cools off and starts raining....which seems very far away from today's vantage point. 

salvia red white

Monday, July 17, 2017

Summer of Love Denim Dress

The summer of denim continues! This dress is my homage to the Summer of Love - which started right here in the bay area. So I couldn't pass up this fantastic denim embroidered with flowers, in the ever-elusive border print. At least elusive to me, I'm always looking for good border prints and they are rare.

flower denim dress in garden2

I had taken some pictures against a plain background but this dress just calls for more flowers. The fabric is from Stone Mountain in Berkeley, and they had several variations of the fabric. I bought the one without any yellow, as I just liked the pink and turquoise with green stems on this one, but the other ones were nice as well. The embroidery is just on one selvedge, so I had to cut on the crosswise grain, which made no difference in this tightly woven fabric, it's halfway between a denim and a chambray in feel. Plus I didn't have to buy very much, just enough to go around me plus seam allowances so I think I got about 1.5 yards and I still have a lot left, mostly of the solid blue, since it is 60" wide.

Dress form view. Can you recognize which pattern?

denim flower dress on form front

It may get retired now as I have just made 3 versions in a row - and I confess the first two were kind of tests in order to get everything right for this one, including the length.  Now that I like the fit I might have to make a winter version.  But it was 106˚F here yesterday so NOT thinking about winter clothes now! New Look 6500 or D0569 on this envelope. strange....

New Look Shift dress pattern

Some sewing details, I decided to line this dress, partially so it would wrinkle less. I decided to make the lining attach to the facing (which I made in the previous post on this dress) as an example so I can show it at my dress class at Hello Stitch.

denim flower dress lining construction

denim lining front and back

That is how it turns out - I really like this way of doing the lining, very ready-to-wear. And uses the same techniques as when I modify a pattern for color-blocking.  The zipper does go up to the top - not sure why I didn't zip it on the form there. I used the grey Ambiance lining because grey is my go-to color for linings that I keep in the stash...

denim flower dress on form back

flower denim dress in garden1

I think these kind of dresses with minimal shaping end up with a few drag lines that I suppose I would have taken out - but it has no darts at the waist or in the back so not a lot to work with. It is
super comfortable though!

This dress reminds me so much of things my mom had in the late sixties, she had some really cute shift dresses with embellishment, I remember a white one with flowers like this that ran from hem to shoulder on one side, and a black one with geometric squares in shades of bright pink and orange. Very mod! I think we had some kid's versions as well.

denim flower embroidery detail

Getting that border to sit right at the hemline was my biggest concern so I think it's just right :)

I have already been wearing this dress out and about, so I took this picture in front of the window at Hello Stitch, with all the sewing machines. and their sitting area. It's really nice to sew there and then take a break, sit on the couch, chat with whoever is around. A nice change from my mostly solitary sewing! If you look closely you can see Chuleenan of reflected in the window as she took the picture. She is the organizer for our Bay Area Sewists Meetup group and she does such a great job arranging interesting topics and events.

flower denim dress in front of window

One of the best things about the Meetup group is that I get to see my sewing friends who are all across the bay area. Even though we are in the same locale to traverse from one end of the bay area to another can take hours depending on the day and the traffic. So it is a treat to see my friend Pauline, (who is @sewuthinkucan on Instagram). If you love stripes you should follow her. You should follow her anyway! I call her the Queen of Stripes. She is on a roll this summer with interpreting things she sees in retail and making her own (better) version. Anyway - it is great to see her and we end up talking a mile a minute to cover everything we need to discuss!

meetup with Pauline2

So that's it for this flowery summer dress - it is my new favorite - until the next new favorite, right?

Up next, hmmm, I don't really know. I am knee deep in making things for others. Including the Charlie Caftan from Closet Case patterns, for someone else, so I will have lots of info on how to do a full bust adjustment on that, add a dart, change the armhole and keep the style but make it look good on any size.

Classes at Hello Stitch - next week starts my two-part shirt making class on Wednesday evening, I think there are a couple of spaces available. You know I love to make shirts - so rewarding, so many fiddly details that am excited to show.   Sunday July 30 - one day dressmaking class.   Sun. Aug 19, Fit Lab, I think there is only one space left.
Jacket making - you know this is the one I am excited about - we are planning now. If you are in the bay area, reading this and would be interested in doing a jacket class, probably starting mid-late Sept or early October, please email me as I have some questions on how to structure the class and would love to discuss.

Happy Summer of Love Sewing,

today's garden photo, a very old rose with small blooms that I kind of want to pull out and replace with something grander  - but oh, this peachy color is so pretty.

dahlias etc

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