Sunday, September 30, 2012

Outfit Post: Cozified Summer Dress

Check Mate Shirtdress
Sweater: Agatha Cardigan
Tights: Kohl's
Shoes: Kenneth Cole Reaction

This is definitely going to be a new favorite outfit this fall.  I wore it to Smorgasburg in Williamsburg yesterday.  It was the first chilly day of the season, and this outfit kept me happily warm.  I'm a sucker for collared tops under sweaters.  Cropped sweaters are a new favorite too - they add warmth, but keep my waistline from disappearing.  I wore a nylon tricot slip I whipped up a while ago underneath the dress, hoping it would keep the dress from riding up.  It did, but the slip kept ending up bunched around my hips instead.  Better the slip than the dress!

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

FO: Azul y Verde

Rayon challis is slowly taking over my wardrobe, and I make no apologies for it.  Yes, it does crease like crazy, but it drapes so nicely, it's fantastically soft, and it works for all seasons.  So what if I have a few wrinkles by the end of the day?

This dress was inspired by this one from Ruche.  I included a waistband instead of the elastic waist and sash, and added the contrasting band at the bottom of the skirt.

I started with Simplicity 2497, shortened the bodice by 3/4" and put the zipper at the CB (with a little slit and buttons at the top).  This was mostly because I squeezed this out of 1 yard of each color, and I was very close to not having enough fabric.  Plus I like the buttons.  I also took off a few inches in length.  Proportion is especially important with color blocking, I think - taking a couple of inches off the length took me from looking stumpy to looking tall (or at least my normal 5'5").

I ended up lining the skirt, which was not part of my original plan.  The fabric by itself was too thin, almost sheer, and clingy.  The lining was re-purposed from this dress, which I had to get rid of after I stained the chiffon skirt.  I'm hoping it prevents some wrinkling, because this fabric creases like nothing else...

I was terrified of how this was going to come together, because the last time I tried to sew a zipper into rayon (see my Alma blouse) it was a huge mess and I had to take it out.  This time I interfaced the seam allowance, basted in the zipper, and then sewed it in.  Success! I also knew that the bottom band needed to be perfectly straight or it would drive me nuts, so I spent ages cutting it exactly on grain.  It's a double layer, so the fold sits at the bottom of the dress.  I hemmed it with the blind hem stitch on my machine. 

The only problem? I have absolutely no clue how to style this for fall. Anyone have any brilliant styling ideas for me? How would you wear it?

I would like to note that I took all of these photos with one earring.  Fortunately I looked in the mirror before I left the house.

Fabric: Emerald green & navy rayon challis from
Pattern: Simplicity 2497
Modifications: Moved zip to CB, added slit and buttons above the zipper.

Sunday, September 23, 2012

Fall & Winter Sewing: Separates

My planning for fall and winter continues... (previous posts here and here.)

Tops (L to R): Victory Patterns Ava in sheer dot & rose print challis, New Look 6107 in a silk heart print (better fabric photo here), McCall 6507 as a top in challis, New Look 6808 in silk/cotton twill, and McCall 6435-inspired dot & jersey top.
Bottoms (L to R): Simplicity 2700 in denim, Colette Beignet in burgundy wool tricotine, Colette Clover in black cotton sateen, and Simplicity 2154 in black stripe suiting.

Separates are always a challenge for me.  I have so many more dresses than skirts, and very few tops that work with my existing skirts and pants.  My hope is that by adding basic bottoms and a wide variety of pretty tops to my wardrobe, I'll find myself reaching for my separates more often.  I'm feeling a little iffy about the peplums, but we'll see.

In actual sewing news, my first dress from my fall & winter plans is nearly done! Just need to go get a couple of buttons (and trim a few threads...)

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

FO: Anouk

I bought a set of three Victory Patterns ages ago, and finally got around to making the Anouk dress (and blogging about it, almost two months later!).  I love it - no zipper to deal with, and nice and comfy.

Overall this dress came together pretty easily, except for some unexpected fit issues with the yoke.  The best photo I could get was this one (sorry, a little grainy...):

If the yoke sat where it was supposed to, the neckline was very gapey.  When I looked at photos of other people's dresses, it seemed like this was a recurring issue, though not quite to this extent.  I fixed it by having the yoke cut straight across at the seersucker section, rather than at an angle like the pattern calls for.

I also had to cut some wedges off of the ends of overlapping front pieces so that they would line up properly.  The more elegant solution I'll try next time is to fold a wedge out of the neckline in the pattern.  I may also try cutting a 2 instead of a 4 - it feels a little big around the shoulders and armholes.  I would definitely recommend a quick muslin of the yoke for this dress - it could save you a lot of pain.

Other than that, everything came together fine.  My fabric choices were pretty uninspired, if you look at the sample:
Image Source
This is really one of those patterns where I have serious issues coming up with anything mildly creative.  I don't really mind one copy of the envelope, but I do want to use this pattern multiple times (have to justify the cost!), so hopefully either some more ideas will come to me soon or more bloggers will make it so that I can be "inspired" aka copy them.

Fabric: Seersucker from Mood, chambray from Paron, and white cotton from my boyfriend's stained dress shirt.
Pattern: Victory Patterns Anouk
Modifications: None, except adjusting the yoke to deal with gaping.

Sunday, September 16, 2012

Fall & Winter Sewing: Dresses

After thinking about what my wardrobe challenges are, I have my plans laid out for fall & winter sewing.  Let's start with my favorite: dresses.

From left to right: McCall 6507 in abstract plaid rayon challis, Vogue 1194 in red jersey (leftover from last winter's plans), Victory Patterns Chloe in a tiny houndstooth stretch woven (also leftover from last year), Jalie 2921 modified into a dress in teal jersey, and a colorblocked Simplicity 2497 in rayon challis.

In my previous post, I noted that dresses with large skirts, while fun to wear, are not good for work and also don't get much wear in winter.  Tights and boots help, but the a-line and slimmer skirted items are what I usually reach for.  I also wanted to use more geometric prints and solid colors.  And work from my stash.  Check, check, and check!

I think these dresses are going to work very well to fill the gaps in my wardrobe.  Both prints are black and white, so I can wear them with most of my cardigans and shoes.  I wore my only two knit dresses constantly last winter, so I know the jersey dresses will be perfect.  I am very excited about the colorblocked dress, even though I think it's going to be the hardest to style.  It's also going to be the least warm (I don't plan to line it, because I think it will be a great summer piece too!), so it's first on the list to make so that I can wear it as much as possible before it gets really cold.

What dresses are you making next?

Thursday, September 13, 2012

FO: (Seer)sucker for Summer Dress

I'm pretty pleased with how this one came out.  The fabrics are leftover from my Mad Men dress and my Victory Patterns Anouk dress (which I still have not blogged!).  Unlike most of my projects, this one was very spur of the moment.  I looked at the fabrics, I had an idea, and I ran with it right away.  I don't think I would be successful at dealing with my wardrobe challenges if I sewed like this all the time, but it's fun to do every once in a while.

I used Butterick 5030, eliminating the wrap on the skirt because I didn't have enough fabric (also, who wants to worry about a wrap staying closed in the wind??).  I finished the neckline with bias tape, as usual, and added a waistband since I didn't have ties around the waist. I did a couple of hand stitches where the wrap crosses, to help keep everything from gaping when I sit down - that's what's causing the tiny bit of pulling below.

I'm on a roll with these invisible zips... this one is not quite as good as the last couple have been, but still decent.

The sleeves are the only thing I'm not totally pleased with - I took out almost an inch of ease from the sleeve cap, but I should have shortened the armscye by 3/4" to increase my range of motion.  It's not terrible, certainly not enough to be uncomfortable with every day activities, but that's a change I'll make next time. 

I do love the way the skirt hangs.  The navy fabric has such a good weight to it for skirts like this; it's nice and swingy.  Sadly, I don't see this transitioning very far into fall.  My last summery dress for the year, I think. 

Fabric: Navy cotton sateen from AK Fabrics, and coral seersucker from Mood.
Pattern: Butterick 5030
Modifications: Wrap on the bodice only, added a waistband, removed 1" of ease from sleeve cap.


Have you seen the new Colette Patterns? It's killing me that I can't justify buying these right now.  I certainly can't justify getting fabric for them, and I don't have anything appropriate in my stash.  I especially love Anise - just the perfect little jacket, and I don't really feel like there are many similar patterns out there.  Juniper is also excellent - I could see myself wearing something like this a lot.  I do already have a wide leg trouser pattern that I'm working on fitting now, so I'm having an easier time letting those go.  But the jacket! Sigh... 

Monday, September 10, 2012

Cool Weather Planning, or "I hate getting dressed in the morning."

Sometimes (fine - often) in the morning I'll cycle through 3-4 outfits before I find something I can live with.  This results in a few problems:

1) I get frustrated and cranky.
2) I run out of time to pack lunch.
3) If it's really bad, I run out of time to sit down for 10 minutes for breakfast, which is when I process the fact that I do, in fact, have to go to work today.
4) If it is not a work day, boyfriend gets frustrated and cranky because he is waiting for me to be ready.
5) I then lose all creative drive and resort to wearing the same outfits week after week, despite the fact that I have enough clothes in theory for different outfits every day of the month.
6) The same outfits get paired with the same shoes, and those shoes then become worn out long before their time while others sit neglected in my closet. 

As I plan for fall and winter, I'm trying to keep in mind three things:

1) What I like to wear: Pretty, "fluffy" dresses like my Chantilly.  Not especially practical in general, and especially difficult to work with in winter.

Chantilly Dress

2) What I reach for most often: Geometric print or solid-colored dresses in simpler silhouettes.  I got this dress from Anthropologie a couple of years ago, and wear it almost once a week year round.

Maeve "Tied Down" Dress

3) My lack of coordinating separates/basics: My Alma blouse is great, but other than my jeans, I've got nothing to wear with it! It is one of many RTW and me-made orphan garments.  I need some pretty blouses and more basic bottoms.

Essentially, I'm trying to sew an everyday wardrobe (inspired by Sunni and Jen), sew more cake (inspired by Tasia), fill any remaining wardrobe gaps, and add a little frosting to top it all off. All while using my stash.  I'm nothing if not ambitious.

The stash part is really where this all becomes more problematic.  I seem to be near incapable of buying solid-colored fabric.  Even geometric prints don't often make it home with me.  I am all about buying the fun prints, but not so much about wearing them.  Besides, a wardrobe of busy prints makes building outfits very difficult.  I could have sworn that I had done my recent shopping with this in mind, but the ratio of solids/simple prints to more busy prints is still about 1:4.  Oh well - I'm going to do what I can with what I have, and let this be a lesson for next year. 

Detailed plans coming up in the next couple of weeks!

What are your wardrobe challenges for the upcoming season?

Thursday, September 6, 2012

The Lint Roller: My new favorite sewing space tool!

First, a little blog housekeeping: I don't know where the time goes, but I think two posts a week is my new normal. I have an evening class starting soon that's going to take up more time, but hopefully I can stick to that schedule.  Also, I know I've been terrible about responding to your comments - I love reading them, really I do, and I'm going to try to get back to responding more consistently ASAP.  Anyway, back to the sewing stuff...

I am very, very messy when I sew - little bits of thread and slivers of fabric are everywhere by the time I'm done.  It was especially bad when I made my last dress - little chiffon threads all over my cutting mat.

My new favorite way to do clean up? My lint roller! I just run it all over the table and I'm done.  It picks up all of those little tiny pieces quickly and easily.

Anyone else do this? How do you clean up your stray threads?

Saturday, September 1, 2012

FO: C-minus.

Earlier this year, I made this skirt:

Splat Skirt 1
I put it on, took some photos, blogged it, and... never wore it again.  I didn't like the silhouette, which made me feel bulky at the waist.  I also didn't own any good tops to pair with it.  This week I decided I needed to do something to make it wearable.  So, I made a dress with the skirt and leftover fabric.

The pattern is a mash up of the New Look 6107 blouse and Simplicity 2497 dress - I used the New Look pattern above the bust line (minus the buttons and with a wider neckband), and the Simplicity pattern below the bust, with elastic instead of the middriff piece.  The bodice is sheer, and the skirt is lined in rayon bemberg.

The problem? Well, problems... Silk chiffon without stabilizer and before the sewist remembers that tissue paper is a godsend = horrors.  This dress was going to have sleeves.  One sleeve went in fine.  The other sleeve had an insanely wavy hem and went into the armscye terribly.  So I cut out the sleeves, and tried to just turn the armhole edge under.  Not good.  Then I remembered the tissue paper trick, and used chiffon bias tape to finish the edge.  That worked, but by this time the armhole was much, much larger than it should have been.  And somehow one shoulder ended up a little (ok, fine, significantly) wider than the other.

I also still feel kind of boxy (yet also triangular) in this.  I think that the sleeves would have helped to balance out the volume at the hips... oh well.

So, it's a C-.  Better than the skirt, and I'll wear it with a cardigan and tights once the weather cools down.  A passing grade, but I'm less than thrilled.  

Anyone else make any C- projects lately?