Monday, April 27, 2020

Please, Help Me Make Up My Mind!

Last year, I fell in love the this fabric from Jo-Ann Fabrics, their amazing leaf-a-palooza print stretch crepe. I had to have it. Ever since then, I've been stumped as to what to make with it, though.

I know I want something that takes advantage of its drape, something with a fuller skirt, and some swishy movement. Perhaps, some ruffles and gathers?

However, I don't want so much fabric that the details can't be seen, or my shape becomes lost in the pattern.

Here are a few of my thoughts. As time went on, the choices kept multiplying. I need your help!

This dress was my first thought:

Simplicity 8888

The lack of waist definition worried me. After seeing a few of these made up I think it would have a string muumuu vibe. The original inspiration (seem below) by Jasper Conran looks great despite not having any waistline.

Jasper Conran S/S 2017

So no go for this pattern, at least in this fabric. I still think it would work in a solid or a more subtle pattern, and I will probably make it one day.

Then there are these:

I already own the top two patterns, with B6677, being the frontrunner. I adored view A in the illustration from the get-go, but was not excited about the full-length version in the photo. I think I would need to alter the neckline into a rounded v-shape because the print might be overwhelming.

Butterick 6677

I honestly bought McCall's 7381 because of the photograph, the illustrations didn't appeal to me at all. However, with this print fabric, I think the bulk of the waist ties and the sleeves ending right at breast height might not be the best for my figure. So, it might be better in the full-length, sleeveless version.

McCall's 7381

Most recently, I noticed Butterick 6705. I think it has a good design balance. Though again, it is rocking an empire waist instead of one at my waist.

Butterick 6705

Simplicity 9041 has a more appealing neckline, where it doesn't crowd the neck and is more open. I think I'd really like it in the short version with perhaps a ruffled band around the armscye, much like in B6677.

Simplicity 9041

This last option is a Cynthia Rowley-designed OOP from 2011. I always thought view B would make a great summer wedding dress in a silk crepe or crepe de chine. You know the type of boho dress topped with a crown of wildflowers in the hair? Again, I would want to amend the design by adding a ruffled tier to the bottom and eliminating the droopy hanging necktie.

Simplicity 1939

What do you think I should make? I realize the problem isn't really with the patterns but my inability to imagine the final silhouette on my body and my fear of disappointment after putting all that work in.

At this moment, I definitely think I will use the tiered skirt of B6677, view C. The mystery is what will the bodice look like because I think I want something less blousy and more sleek than the options above? So, maybe some frankenpattern work is ahead?

Thursday, March 19, 2020

Quick Projects From 2019

These three projects passed by last year without any fanfare, but I really like to document, so here we go...


I loved Simplicity 2406 so much but realized I would never be able to wear it again while also eating what I love to eat. The hip area was already bordering on too tight years ago. So, I cut it off right at the widest point to make myself a wearable top.

This gave the top some more time, but it's not the same. Since Jo-Ann still sells this fabric, I'm tempted to make that dress over again, this time in the grey version. What do you think?

Tried and True:

I made a simple skirt using a downloaded Pattern Runway skirt pattern (it seems it is no longer available) and some Jo-Ann quilting fabric I had my eye on called Dotted Twigs in a gray, mustard, and black print. It goes with everything, but of course, reads very spring, so it's been in storage.

New Make:

For Halloween, I chose to go as a superhero. Owning both the Simplicity 8718 and Simplicity 8074 "warrior women" patterns, I had a lot of pieces to choose from. The designs in these patterns resemble two of Rey's looks from The Last Jedi (with two versions of Rey's scavenger drapes,) and three costumes from Game of Thrones; a Season 7 Arya Stark battle dress and two from the Season 5 Sand Snake sisters (complete with harnesses.)

I originally wanted to use the harness ideas to create a Valkyrie costume from Thor Ragnarok but wanted something simple to make. I then thought of how achievable the character of Domino from Deadpool 2 would be instead. However, I still really wanted Rey's sleeveless vest in my regular non-superhero wardrobe, so I went ahead and made it anyway.

I was able to find a beautiful tweed remnant on the Jo-Ann clearance table and an exceptionally well color-matched lining.

Hand sewing for the win!

I'm pretty proud of this make and have worn it many times to work as a regular garment. I do still have plans to make Rey's padded epaulets (detachable) at some point with the leftover fabrics.

Thursday, February 13, 2020

McCall's 7313 - Fall Floral Frock

Pattern: McCall's 7313 (2016)

Pattern Description: Pullover dresses have neckline variations, close-fitting bodice, and a hidden elastic waist. A Learn to Sew For Fun pattern. I made View D.

Pattern Sizing: Sizes 18-20-22-24W

Did it look like the photo/drawing on the pattern envelope once you were done sewing with it? Yes, exactly.

Were the instructions easy to follow? Extremely easy, as expected for a Learn to Sew pattern.

What did you particularly like or dislike about the pattern? I like the simple design, neckline options, and a defined waistline, which I now prefer to have in my dresses.

Fabric Used: 58" Ember Knit double brushed print fabric in Dusty Blue Abstract Floral (85% Polyester, 15% Spandex) from Jo-ann Fabrics, Gutermann 100% polyester Sew-All thread in Copenhagen #933, Dritz 1/4" wide elastic

Pattern alterations or any design changes you made: Using the finished garment measurements, I  originally cut a size 18 bodice and a 20 skirt. Not sure about the curve of the neckline, I had planned to use Simplicity 8910 to influence the shape of the final neckline.

However, after trying on the basted dress I was disappointed to find the dress bodice was oversized,  loose, and shapeless. I took it apart and laid my altered New Look 6838 t-shirt pattern over it and shaved some width from the sides and enough length from the shoulders to bring it closer to the pattern's size 16.

I also removed the seam allowance from the back neck because it seemed too high. At this point, I realized the original neckline would work.

After having fit the bodice, I basted in the sleeves. Now being eager, I had already sewed the sleeves together and hemmed them. Pinning them into the armscye revealed that there was too much ease, almost two inches. Shortening the sleeve cap height, reducing the width of the sleeve at the underam, plus slightly gathering the basting stitches at the underarms got them to fit.

Hand stitching the full skirted hem took a few hours but I finished 48 hours out from #DCFrocktails2020, so it was all a success.

Would you sew it again? Would you recommend it to others? Yes. The variety of neckline options and simple construction makes this an easy TNT (tried and true) pattern for sure.

Conclusion: When I needed a quick no-nonsense dress, this pattern came to the rescue. The only issue is I need to start verifying the finished garment measurements before cutting into my fabric from now on. Or I could finally make that bodice sloper I keep meaning to make...come on 2020 sloper!!

Monday, December 30, 2019

Carter's Blue Woobie*

A decade ago, I made quite a few stuffed toys for my friends who were all having babies around the same time. I loved making them but ended up really burned out. However, there was no way I wasn't making toys for my niece and nephew's children. Here is the story of stuffed toy #2, this one made completely from scratch.

Patterns Used: For the head, I used Simplicity 8938 (2019) because I wanted to use the adorable face shape of the bear with its full cheeks. I also used the pattern for the one-piece body and curved leg shape. The shoulders and arms were adapted from both the Wee Wonderfuls Kitty, Bunny, and Bear 3-in-1 pattern (2006), and McCall's 7795 (2018.)

Did it look like the photo/drawing on the pattern envelope(s) once you were done sewing with it? No, it became its own thing.

Were the instructions easy to follow? Very much so, since I decided to simplify the whole stuffed toy experience from the last time I made a soft toy from fleece. This time, I choose not to have separate arms and legs. Really, the most challenging part was deciding which colors to use for all the decorative elements. I ended up cutting eye, muzzle, and tummy pieces in multiple colors and tried out different combinations.

The final design

Fabric Used: 59" Anti-pill Plush Fleece (100% polyester) in Mare Blue and Deep Blue, 59" Blizzard fleece (100% polyester) in Wedgewood, Gutermann 100% polyester Sew All thread in Iris #900 and Dark Blue #252, Kuni ecofi Classic Felt in Neon Blue, and Pellon Easy Pattern.

I used the chosen pattern pieces and Pellon Easy Pattern to trace shapes for blending and creating new pattern pieces.

The old and the new

Pattern alterations or any design changes you made: I created my own stuffed toy pattern by combining my favorite parts from primarily two patterns. I also drew inspiration from the book fleecie dolls (2008) by Fiona Goble, realizing that a fleece doll might be easier to clean and feel softer on a child's skin. over the years, I've made multiple versions of the Wee Wonderful animals, and while I love them all; knowing what I know now; fleece or a woven cloth works better than the flannel I used for them. Flannel is not durable enough for heavily-used (played with) dolls. The stressed stitches pulled right out of the delicate weave, and the fabric surface (and softness) wore down quickly.

Finishing touches that I added: Then came the truly fun part, adding details, the face, and personality using embroidery. This was so relaxing and meditative. I love his little face! The patch over the stomach gave the illusion of a chubby body and I even put a little puff of padding under both the tummy and the muzzle piece before stitching it down.

Blanket stitches in contrasting colors add both a hand sewn and finished feel to the whole project.

The last touch was adding a simple vest (which I'm sure was promptly lost) I adapted the idea from a tutorial for Tagalong Teddy from Betz White's book Present Perfect. (Unfortunately, the tutorial is no longer accessible online, so definitely go get the book.)

Would you sew it again? Would you recommend it to others? Oh, yeah, this is my new TNT doll pattern.

Chewing is acceptable.
Gently guarded by the family dog.

 From all the signs seen above it seems to have been a success!

Remember what a "woobie" is? If you do, you are around my age if you know what 1980s movie that term comes from.