Wednesday, June 07, 2017

Mod Double Knit Ponte Dress - Simplicity 5289

Pattern: Simplicity 5289 (1972)

Pattern Description: A-line dress with back zipper closing has French darts, high round neck, and short raglan sleeves.

Pattern Sizing: Pattern is size 14, though my waist and hip measurements corresponded with their size 16.

Did it look like the photo/drawing on the pattern envelope once you were done sewing it? Yes, pretty much, except the neckline is a bit lower on my version.

Were the instructions easy to follow? Yes, extremely easy.

What did you particularly like or dislike about the pattern? It's easy, perfect for a quick, cute make. It has a very forgiving shape. However, I had to make adjustments in order for it to fit the way I desired.

Fabric Used: 1-3/4 yards green double knit from VA/DC/MD swap (where I also got the pattern!). This is a medium-weight fabric with minimum stretch. Gutermann polyester thread in Spruce #784 and a 3/8" button from my stash.

Pattern Alterations or any design changes you made:  I knew that the round necklines of the 60-70s were worn high and I might have to lower the neckline so I created a quick muslin of the dress (waist-up only) to check that, the fit of the shoulders, and the armscye. The neckline was extremely high to the point of near choking. Note that my muslin was made from a former twill duvet cover while the final dress would be in a double knit so the actual result would still be a mystery.

Otherwise, I was extremely surprised by the good fit of the muslin. The armholes for the raglan sleeve hung a bit too low for full mobility but otherwise, the darts were in the correct place and the shoulder shape was near perfect.

The bodice fit perfectly but the size 14 was meant for a waist and hip 2 inches smaller than mm actual measurements so I thought I needed to add some width to the pattern at the side seam. In the end, I ended up removing the additional width and in fact, increased all of the darts considerably to bring the fit in closer.

Despite the pattern illustration, according to the pattern envelope, the finished dress length was meant be 42", most definitely a 1970s "midi" to "maxi" length. I ended up removing 6 inches (!) and then doing a 2-1/4" hem. 

One thing I really enjoyed while making this dress was all the hand basting that I did, it was very relaxing, and didn't take that much time. If you desire stitching accuracy, basting by hand is a necessity. I even basted in all of the darts, dart legs and all, so I could machine stitch exactly on the lines.

Here is the dress during my first fitting:

Shoulder shape is looking good!

Unfortunately, the perfect shoulder shape was the only good thing about the fit of the dress. I had a lot more work to do to achieve the look of my inspiration dresses (see other construction links at bottom of this post).

I ended up cutting the neckline lower, more at the sides than at the front to correct the patterns vintage look and stifling feel. At first I had planned to bind the neckline but scared of bulk and any possible stretching I chose to just turn the seam allowance under and topstitch. I'm very happy with how that turned out.

Even though this is a stable knit, I still finished all raw edges with a zigzag for neatness and hemmed it by machine, doing two rows of stitching (faux twin needle) at the skirt hem.

Still some swayback issues but I'm fine with it.

I love these French darts.

I chose not to install a zipper, scared that it would stretch out the fabric or not lay flat. Instead I did a simple button closure following an awesome thread button loop tutorial from the Tessuti blog. It turned out so simple and elegant looking.

Would you sew it again? Would you recommend it to others? Even though I AM in love with the final dress, probably not. I'm not sure I would be able to forget the frustration and time spent trying to finally get the dress I originally imagined. I'm also not sure I transferred all the changes to the paper pattern during the process. F.Y.I. I suggest that anyone attempting a vintage pattern like this one definitely make a muslin, or two.

Mad Men season 7, episode 3
Stella McCartney "Ridley" dress

See? I swear I didn't pose like the pictures on purpose. Also ignore my food baby.

Conclusion: I knew this was a perfect marriage of pattern and fabric to attempt a version of my inspiration dresses; a dress worn by Elizabeth Moss as "Peggy Olson" on Mad Men's final season and a similarly shaped dress, the "Ridley" dress by Stella McCartney as worn by Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge. I wanted a simple dress design that would result in pure comfort, fully taking advantage of this cozy fabric and this design succeeded. In the end, I chose not to do the contrast topstitching, but it's something I can always do later if I change my mind.

More Of My Mad Mod Ponte Dress
My Mad Mod Ponte Knit Dress In Progress

Images: My own photos, AMC,,

Sunday, May 28, 2017

Chocolate Replicate Skirt - Butterick 6464

This project was inspired by a favorite, well-worn skirt I bought from New York & Company about five years ago. The fabric it was made of was 70% polyester, 25% rayon, 5% spandex.

The skirt had center back and front topstitched seam lines, a back vent, and a wide flat waistband that encased a narrower piece of elastic.

Because of this construction, there is no evidence of gathers and the waist lays flat both on and off the body.

Vogue 8962

For the last year, I had casually looked for a pattern to replicate this skirt, originally thinking I had found the right one in Vogue 8962 (OOP) but an online review revealed that the waistband treatment was no different than the skirt patterns that I already owned. Then this year, Lisette released Butterick 6464 and after reading the instructions at Jo-Anns* I knew I had found exactly what I was looking for!

Pattern: Butterick 6464 (2017)

Pattern Description: Close-fitting, pull-on skirt with side panels and thin elastic inside a wide waistband.

Pattern Sizing: Size E5 (14-16-18-20-22), I cut halfway between a size 16 and 18.

Did it look like the photo/drawing on the pattern envelope once you were done sewing it?  Sorta, the actual skirt's waistband appeared more gathered than in the drawing.

Were the instructions easy to follow? Extremely easy. Great pattern for a beginner and it that has more style than a basic pencil skirt.

What did you particularly like or dislike about the pattern? I could see myself making all three pieces but it was the skirt that won me over because its construction was the same as my favorite RTW skirt.

Fabric Used: Mahogany brown 58" ponte knit (poly/rayon/Lycra) from Fabric Mart, (70 denier 100% polyester tricot in Oat from, Stretchrite 1/2" polyester braided elastic, Gutermann 100% polyester thread in #592 Chili Brown.

Pattern Alterations or any design changes you made: I checked the design ease for this skirt. They had calculated 1.5 inches (43.5 for a 42" hip), which I thought was far too much positive ease for a knit skirt. I decided half of that would be much better so I cut my skirt pieces halfway between a size 16 and a size 18.

I love the way the waistband is constructed, it consists visually of a wide waistband/yoke with elastic inside. However, it's extremely clever because unlike most elastic waists the channel of elastic is not evident from the outside. The yoke sections are stitched together on the sides only, a casing is formed at the top edge where a thin elastic is inserted, and once secured the entire yoke is turned right side out; essentially hiding the elastic. The yoke is then attached to the skirt pieces.

The rest of the skirt is incredibly simple, consisting of center and side panels on both the front and back. The instructions suggest that all seams, if not sewn on a serger, should be double-stitched. I topstitched the panel seams, the waistband, and the hem in order to replicate the details on my inspiration skirt. I increased the hem to 1.5" . The only detail missing was the back vent which I didn't need with this shorter skirt.

I considered adding a lining to the skirt because I originally thought it was too lightweight and would be too clingy. But as you see it looks fine; however, I have the tricot if I should choose to sew it in at a later date.

Would you sew it again? Would you recommend it to others?  Yes, I will definitely make more of these and can also see using this same waistband yoke and attaching it to different shaped skirts and possibly some pants. I definitely recommend this skirt pattern.

Conclusion: This was a successful make, a slim skirt with an ingenious waistband treatment and visual interest provided by the topstitched side panels.

* Yes, I am that woman who before she buys a pattern glances through the instructions and unfolds the pattern sheets just enough to find the finished garment measurements and wearing ease. That second step helps a lot when determining which multi-size combination to buy. Luckily for everyone else I always refold EXACTLY like they were before.

Tuesday, April 25, 2017

Wedding Guest Dress: Finalizing Details

Vogue 2745
Last week, I placed one important order and one free and fun order for fabric swatches. To be completely honest, of course both orders were fun...they were for FABRIC!!

I need to finalize fabric for my dress project, Vogue 2745, both view A and B are to be worn this coming June 10. View A will be in Mood Fabrics' Kelly Green silk crepe de chine (above), but the slip could be made from several different fabrics.

Side note, before moving on to Vogue 2745, I was considering making New Look 6244 but with a different slip (all pics of its slip made up looked shapeless and badly fitted, an obvious fault of the drafted pattern). Instead I was going to use Butterick 6031 from my stash, which I wanted to make regardless, but never could find the right fabric. From my last Emma One Sock swatch order I knew the venezia 4-way jersey lining was the ideal fabric but I was not willing to sew a $22 slip, which didn't already include the cost of several yards of two different widths of lace, elastic, and the strap hardware.

However, the pattern suggested tricot and a Google search brought me to and their selection of 40 and 70 denier tricots. While I have now switched to using Vogue 2745, the site provided me with some other suggested fabric possibilities so I ordered a yard of the 70 denier tricot in Oat (will use it for skirt lining) and swatches (8" square!) of a China silk in Silver, charmeuse in Cappuccino, stretch charmeuse in Silver, and a crepe de chine in Purple, all made of polyester.

Results: I love the tricot, the texture is exactly as I expected from the website image. I now wish I had ordered a less neutral color but I can immediately use this as lining for a current skirt. I will definitely order some for use with Butterick 6031 in the future.

70 denier tricky in Oat

The China silk I was sent would not work for the slinky slip I was envisioning but would make crisp garment linings. Both charmeuse swatches were lovely but I preferred the feel of the non-stretch one, the color was gorgeous, and it played off my skin tone very well.

Charmeuse and "China silk"

When ordering the polyester crepe de chine, I had secretly hoped I might use it instead of the far more expensive Mood silk but is not at all the same. This crepe de chine felt more like a simple crepe to me with that spongy pebbled feel, it was the same on both sides, it had no sheen, and was also not opaque. I am 90% sure I received the wrong fabric; however, as you can see above it is dated the day it was packaged and had three separate labels claiming it is crepe de chine. Regardless, it doesn't come in the desired green.

Crepe or crepe de chine, see what I mean?

From Emma One Sock, I ordered swatches of their Emerald silk crepe de chine (since the price is similar to that of Mood), an organic cotton double gauze in Cocoa Dots, a poly rayon sweater knit in Wine, a rayon blend ponte (no poly!) in Charcoal, and finally some 100% silk habotai (China silk) in Teal for comparison to the polyester one coming from

The silk types in white, the colors both in CDC

Results: The Emma One Sock crepe de chine was nice but not the same as Moods in weight, drape, or sheen. Or perhaps I've just become very fond of my bedraggled little swatch. (It looks that way because I wanted to see how it would change if hand washed. The jury is still out on that.)

Their China silk (100% silk) is obviously superior to the poly one but still drastically different than what I expected. Its soft delicacy intimidated me, no way would I be attempting my slip in that since I have enough work coming with the main dress being silk. In addition, it's price along with fabric for the main dress would cost more than I have ever paid for a RTW dress!

Check out that shimmer!

The ponte was luscious (and will be tested for pilling), the sweater knit lush, and the double gauze not exactly what I expected. Perhaps I need to experience a larger swatch to understand all the web love for it?

UPDATE: After all that, I went a WHOLE other way! In my last post, I mentioned how the slip could be worn as a dress on it's own? Well, I layered my Mood swatch over the cappuccino charmeuse one and decided I didn't want two solid colored bias dresses that I would rarely wear; one because it was silk (duh!) and the other because the color though lovely wouldn't be that practical to wear. Once I started thinking of prints and something that could be worn under the green crepe de chine, two fabrics immediately sprung to mind, inexpensive, locally available, and both of which I could have bought months ago! Two multi-colored polyesters from, of all places, Jo-Ann Fabrics and designs I had been fantasizing over for months but couldn't justify with my existing stash and queue of projects. It just happened they were on sale and I came home with the one that worked with the main dress fabric the most, in a lovely mix of colors which will also influence my choice of accessories.

So, which one do you think I picked?

If you're interested in a peek at the fabrics, my inspirations for the final outfit styling, and the colored(!) shoe possibilities, check out my Wedding Guest Dress Pinterest board.

Surprise! Actually Buying Fabric With a Purpose!

A Change To The Wedding Guest Dress

Images: my own, Jo-Ann Stores, LLC

Tuesday, April 18, 2017

A Change To The Wedding Guest Dress...

A few months ago, I wrote about a dress I wanted to create for my nieces wedding this June. Though I've been thinking about it for a long time nothing has been done! And yes it is now less than 2 months away!


In that time, I changed my mind again on what pattern I wanted to use. That Diane von Furstenberg Dita dress (above) that first caught my attention initially led me to a similar pattern, New Look 6244, that happened to be one I had always liked. I bought it and was prepared to make it. However, just during regular maintenance on my Etsy pattern shop and checking out the competition (not really, just looking at stuff I can't buy) I came across a pattern that REALLY matched the inspiration dress, Vogue 8070 (2003).

Even though it IS an exact match, I realized then that it might not be as flattering as I wished. In the time since I wrote this first post, I changed my desired look from appropriately dressed cute aunt to slinky single. I wanted more 1929 uneven hemlines of the handkerchief, high-low, and asymmetrical variety styled on Hollywood film sirens and less of those with by the average woman. Note: For some great research and images on these go to the witness2fashion blog.

Well, while searching for a specific vintage Vogue evening dress pattern for a stranger on Instagram, I shocked myself by coming across yet another Vogue pattern exhibiting some of the same elements along with those additional va-va-voom points.

I don't really have to say anything, do I? Vogue 2745 (2003) is PERFECT!

Amazingly, it has the same v-neckline, gathered shoulders, bias skirt with inset panels, handkerchief hemline, and a slip to be worn underneath. However, it's still different, the neckline is sleeker with no overlap and a darted bodice, the back is no longer a duplicate of the front and is more open. The slip is the biggest game changer here as it is far more fitted than the one from New Look 6244. While the bodice of that slip was horribly unfitted with no structure to support the bust, this one is darted and is actually self-lined, which will be very appreciated as the dress will need to be worn braless. If created well enough and in the right fabric, the slip could be worn as a dress on its own.

Next steps: Selecting fabric for the slip and starting a muslin.


Images: composite image by @sewandstyle_

Saturday, March 25, 2017

Organic Cotton Plus Culottes - Butterick 6178

Pattern: Butterick 6178 (2016)

Pattern Description: Semi-fitted cropped culottes with waistband, side pockets, and back zipper.

Pattern Sizing: Sizes (14-16-18-20-22) I ultimately chose to make a size 18 according to my measurements.

Did it look like the photo/drawing on the pattern envelope once you were done sewing with it? Exactly!

Were the instructions easy to follow? Yes, this pattern is so simple, three pieces, four darts, and a zipper.

What did you particularly like or dislike about the pattern? I liked the simplicity of the flat front and the sleekness of the pant style, which was needed for the length to work.

Fabric Used: 100% organic cotton 7 oz. twill from Organic Cotton Plus* in Nutmeg 160180T-NUT, Coats & Clark 7" zipper in Cloister Brown 56B, and Gutermann 100% polyester thread in Clove #590.

[This fabric was sent to me by Organic Cotton Plus and has a great feel. I pre-washed it in warm water and while it grew softer it still had a durability and thickness much like denim and would probably make a great pair of jeans or a jacket. However, the fabric arrived off grain and needed correction. More about this fabric and my solution can be found here on my blog.]

Before and After

Pattern alterations or any design changes you made: Even though I had checked the finished garment measurements, still wary of the fit, I cut this out in size 20. I basted the pants together on the inside seams and pinned the side seams. I tried them on and of course realized I should have just cut my size! Well, better to be safe than sorry. Hmmmm....

I started the habit of thread tracing all of my darts after marking with chalk for accuracy. It's much easier to stitch over thread than a blurry chalk outline. It also works if I find myself putting aside a project for a day or two (or a week!)

Next came the centered zipper and pocket insertion. There was a point when the instructions say to press all of the pocket seam allowances the same way where I found that just changing the direction of one seam allowed the whole pocket to lay flatter.

There was a part of the instructions I changed. When stitching the crotch seam, they want you to stitch the seam at 5/8" and then again 1/4" away. Because of where this seam sits I felt that was too far away, as the seam wouldn't lay right, so I went back and stitched at 7/8", notched into the seam allowance and then removed the 1/4" stitching.

I easily attached the waistband but unfortunately, there were diagonal lines radiating from the crotch towards the lower hip AND lines from the middle of the waistband out to the mid-hip. I was positively confused about a solution. But I'm not the only one, because I noticed it in photos from other reviews of the pattern.

Trying to figure out the problem, I tried altering the darts by deepening and lengthening the ones in front which eliminated most of the fullness in that area. I extended (by a smaller amount) the back darts too.

The only thing left to do was determine the best possible length. I chose to copy the look from the inspiration photo below and go about four inches above my ankles, which I found looked good with both flats and 2" - 3" heels.

Would you sew it again? Would you recommend it to others? No, I will probably try another similar pattern in my stash. Unfortunately, the front crotch of this pant is too shallow and I think that was what made the pattern set funny on my body.

Conclusion: This project was fast tracked up my sewing queue when Organic Cotton Plus contacted me for a review; however, I've wanted to make this pattern since seeing Lisa's gorgeous version (above) on the Tessutti blog.

*Though the fabric was provided free in exchange for a review, all opinions are my own. Full review of the fabric can be found here.