Everyday Strawberry Shortcake

Pink Winifred 7

What could I possibly be looking at? My shoes, of course.

Pink Winifred 6

I’ve had these shoes for a few years now, and while I’ve worn them with this or that (mainly black skirts or trousers), I’ve always wanted to have a dress that I could wear them with. Unfortunately, the shoes themselves, while quite awesome in my opinion, tend to evoke a certain Strawberry Shortcake cos-play vibe. I needed a dress that was thoroughly grounded in reality, preferably a pink reality.

I finally decided that what I wanted was a pink shirt-dress. I like the look of the Colette Hawthorn (especially this one), but after doing one muslin, I realized I will need major adjusting of that pattern, lest the buttons go flying across the room evoking a scandal on it’s first wearing, so it’s been set aside for a time when I feel like messing around with it. In the meantime, I had this pink chambray in my stash that I had originally bought to make up a Hawthorn, but it’s on the heavy side, and it’s stretchy. It may have been marked as cotton, but there has to be a significant amount of lycra in it too to make it stretch like it does. I’ve heard tell that the Hawthorn collar has a lot of layers in some places, and I think the thickness of this particular chambray calls for fewer layers to be sewn through at a time. Enter a new pattern, the Winifred Dress from Bluegingerdoll Patterns.

Pink Winifred 1

I had originally seen Heather B.’s version. Of course she had one of the first finished versions, she was a pattern tester (do I sound too jealous?). Anyway, I liked her dress so much that I up and ordered the pattern for myself. The Australian post finally got it to me (well actually the US post delivered it to me, but by way of Australia). Yipee! I got it in time for the sew-along.

Pink Winifred 5

 

Minimal adjusting was needed to get this to fit me. I used the size 18, the largest size included in the pattern. I added to the sleeve circumference as shown in this sew-along tutorial. No other changes. I do wonder now, looking at the pictures whether my darts/tucks are a little low, but it might be just a trick of the stretchy-ness of the fabric instead. The pattern comes on a very large sheet of thick (ok, not that thick, but heavier than pattern tissue) paper, so if you’re planning on getting the printed pattern, you might want to plan to trace off the pattern rather than cutting it apart, since the large pattern pieces on thick-ish paper could get unwieldy.

Moving from pattern/fitting adjustments to design changes, you might notice that I added buttons. These are purely decorative, the seam down the front of the dress is sewn down tight. I just had bought the buttons thinking “shirtwaist dress” so I wanted to use them. Plus this gave me the pink/red combo I needed to coordinate with the shoes. How cute are these buttons? How could I not use them?

Pink Winifred 3

There are no closures on this dress, making it super-quick to put together. There is a belt on the back which covers the elastic and gives it a more finished look than leaving the elastic-waist exposed. I bought a vintage belt buckle (labelled by the seller as Bakelite, but I don’t know enough about it to know whether it’s the real deal or something else entirely). It matched my buttons well enough, since I couldn’t find a heart-shaped one.

Pink Winifred 4

Overall, I’m really happy with this pattern. It hits just the right note between being a casual dress vs. a dressy-dress. The skirt has plenty of moving room, but not so much swish that going outside in the wind becomes hazardous. The lack of zipper in the back means that I can get myself dressed without having to ask my kids for help. I’m pondering over the other fabric options in my stash to make another one at some point, since I bought another vintage belt buckle at the same time as the red one.

On an unrelated note, please just try to ignore that I was having a really, really bad hair day today when I took these pictures. I’m thinking I’ll bob it off later this month when I see my hairdresser.

Stash-busting stats: 20/50 projects. 39 yards.

Miss Bossy Patterns Made Me Do It

Elisalex 6b

I might have known that putting an Independent pattern company up against any other pattern option would be guaranteed to get me bossed into making up that independent company’s pattern.  And thus, for my March Monthly Stitch project, I was bossed into making up By Hand London’s Elisalex dress.

Elisalex 2b

I made this up properly, starting with a muslin and ending with a lot of hand stitching. The skirt ended up longer than I thought it was going to. For some reason, I thought it would be below-knee-length. As drafted, however, it is more like mid-calf on me. Obviously, I only muslined the bodice, not the skirt. Since the skirt is really shaped, cutting it off on the bottom would have wrecked the style lines. As it turns out I rather like the old-fashioned vibe of the longer skirt with this fabric, though I might like to try a shorter one at some point. The bodice, was the perfect length, but I gave it a little bit of extra waist room. The sleeves needed a couple of inches of bicep width added (because I have such thick muscles there, really). Overall, I don’t think the alterations for this dress were excessive or overly complicated. I was working with the size 14/18 for the upper bodice, grading out to 16/20 at the waist, but ended up taking in some of the waist width after attaching the skirt (yes, even though I had done a muslin), so I might just do a size 14/18 if I make another version.

Elisalex 4b

The neckline on this is wide and dips low in the back, but not low enough to show anything. It’s just about perfect, though, because of where the neckline ends in back it’s impossible to hook it myself so I need help getting in and out of my dress. You will also notice that I have an invisible zipper instead of an exposed one. I was going for an elegant vibe, so wanted the closures to be unobtrusive.

Elisalex 3b

Because I was fitting as I sewed, my construction order differed from what the pattern instructions called for. The lining is hand sewn at the back edges and along the waist. I used a mystery lining out of my stash. It was pressing so nicely as I sewed that I got curious and did a burn test. It turned out to be silk; what a lovely surprise.

The main fabric is a home-decor 100% cotton jacquard. Instructions said dry-clean, so I put it through the washer/dryer before cutting out my dress. It held up just fine. The selvege says it was treated with “Bloomguard”, so I’m water- and stain-protected when I wear it to lunch like I did today.

Elisalex 5b

I’m not going to ask if you noticed my hat. Not even the giant sofa-appropriate roses on my dress (none of which ended up in any awkward places as far as I can see) can distract from the utter awesomeness that is my blue vintage hat. I bought it nearly a year ago from Lil’ Gypsy, a wonderfully curated vintage and costume shop in Salem, Oregon which I will highly recommend you visit if you find yourself in downtown Salem with some time to spare. I’m glad to finally have a dress that seems to coordinate with the hat.

The fabric is from my stash (though originally from Fashion Fabrics Club and I think still available there)
Stash Busting Stats:  19/50 projects. 36 yards.

Fun Dress and Practical Leggings

Gunmetal 3

 

I’ve got a pretty new dress to show off. This is the Gunmetal dress from Lolita Patterns. It’s a knit dress, but different than any of the other knit dresses I’ve made.

It’s not a difficult make, per se, but between multiple ruffles, D-rings, and rouching, it is on the fiddly side. My fabric choice may have made it a bit harder on myself, since that black and white fabric curled on the edges, and the princess seams guaranteed I had a lot of edges. I had bought the black and white fabric some time ago, thinking it might make a fun top layer piece like a cardigan or something, but I had bought it on-line, and when I got it in-person, it didn’t have a warm, cozy feel like an outer layer should have. It’s been waiting for the perfect project, and this dress is definitely it.

Gunmetal 2

The Lolita pattern is designed for sheer or lacy fabrics, so those top, ruched layers are all underlined. There is a separate lining inside the top. The skirt is underlined as well. I like the contrast at the front bodice, and I like my skirts on the long-ish side, so I made the underlining skirt piece a few inches longer than the overlay so the contrast can be seen at the skirt hem as well as on the bodice.

Gunmetal 1

 

The bottom hems on the skirt layers and the edges of the ruffles are finished w/ a rolled hem done on my serger. I just used regular serger thread since I didn’t have any wooly-nylon sitting around and it turned out just fine. It doesn’t show up well in the pictures, but there are some sparkly silver threads mixed in with the black and white pattern of the fabric. Sparkly fabric makes me smile.

Gunmetal 4

You can see where the waistline sits is considerably lower than my actual waist. It’s quite comfortable and doesn’t ride up. The black fabric I used as my contrast and lining is Laguna cotton (95% cotton, 5% lycra), so it has plenty of stretch and recovery. I made Espresso Leggings to match. Black Espressos, it doesn’t get any more wardrobe basic than that.

The only design changes I made to the Gunmetal pattern were to skip the ribbon down either side of the front. I felt like I was running out of room between the D-rings and the ruffles. I also took the time to add a pocket, a la Red Velvet, with an invisible zipper in the waistline. With the double-layered skirt, side-seam pockets weren’t really an option, and patch pockets would have looked odd with this design. The zippered pocket is virtually invisible, but oh, so, useful to hold the requisite ID/lipstick/debit card for the average day’s venture into the outside world.

Gunmetal 5

 

This dress should actually have been done a long time ago, but kept getting delayed. At first I was going to make the version with buttons instead of lacing down the front. I was just getting started and talking to Pete about what I was doing. He hadn’t even seen the pattern envelope, but said something about how it sounded like the dress I was working on needed to have lacing like a corset instead of buttons down the front. Well, if he could think that without having seen a picture of the alternate pattern view, of course he must be right. So I had to wait while I ordered the D-rings to use for the lacing. She got them out to me right quick, then I realized I had no ribbon to use to sew the rings on, so I ordered some of that. Then, of course, there was the requisite procrastination time while I got distracted finishing up other things. It was worth the wait though, because this dress is a win. Pretty, but not so fancy that I can’t wear it for everyday.

If When I make this again, I’ll plan to angle my shoulder seams to take up some of the neckline room. I think I must have sloping shoulders, and certain patterns really call it to my attention. For this dress, I might have to wear a black cami underneath to avoid showing off too much when I lean over. For the record, I made a size 14, with no size alterations other than the skirt length on the underskirt.

In other news, while I was in legging-making mode, I finally switched over to pink serger thread and put together my pink Laguna cotton Espressos. They’d been cut out for a while, but my OCD side really wanted me to use pink thread and my lazy side really wanted me to wait to put pink in until I could use it for more than one project. I made the leggings, then changed the thread to ivory for the Elisalex Dress that won the Miss Bossy Patterns Vote. OCD side wins this round.

Pink leggings

 

Stash-busting Stats: 18/50 projects. 32 yards.

Practical Menswear

For years now I’ve wanted to make clothing for Pete. Not that he isn’t perfectly capable of buying his own clothing, but I like the idea of him wearing things I’ve made. I have made him things here and there, but never had been able to make something he really, really liked and would wear over and over. Finally I have the perfect pattern for the perfect thing to make him, Jalie 2918.

Pete t-shirt 1

 

He’s being all weird and not wanting his face in pictures right now. The first one I made him I don’t have a picture of. I used a random rayon jersey from my stash. It’s become his favorite lounging around at home shirt (he’s wearing it now as he watches You Tube videos), but being a thin rayon, it doesn’t work as a going out and about piece.

Pete t-shirt 2

This one is made of Laguna cotton (95% cotton, 5% lycra). I measured both Pete and one of his favorite ready-to-wear t-shirts. The ready-to-wear shirt was several sizes smaller than what the pattern would have called for. He likes his shirts to fit slim, so I went with the size closer to the ready-to-wear one. He also asked for the neckline to be lowered about an inch, so I did that too, just drawing it in on the pattern.

Yeah, not the most exciting of pieces, but very practical and wearable. He liked the first one enough that I made him a few more, out of the same Laguna cotton in different colors.

Orange t-shirt

Green t-shirt

 

 

Stash-busting stats: 15/50 projects, 26 1/2 yards

When I’m not Sewing, I Might be Knitting

Everyone and their mothers have at some point made up an Andi Satterlund knitting pattern. I couldn’t be the only one left out, so I made Chuck. The yarn is Cascade 220 in peony heather, a gorgeously girly shade of pink. It goes oh, so, well with my “Prom Dress“, which being sleeveless and made of quilting cotton, is otherwise not so wearable in winter.

Chuck Sweater 3

 

I do plan to make it again sometime, but I think I’ll go down a size. Even though this one is wearable and super-comfortable, there’s more positive ease than the pattern is designed for.

Chuck sweater 2

I do such a wretched job of documenting my knitting projects. My Ravelry account is full of projects with start dates but no completion dates or pictures, even though it’s been months since I finished them up. I have pictures on my computer just waiting for editing and posting. Why does this happen? I just don’t know. I’m actually a fairly prolific knitter anymore. It’s such a portable thing to have to keep my hands busy, especially for those times when Pete and the kids have picked out the Saturday night movie and it wouldn’t have been my first choice.

So to catch up, here’s another knit, The Abernathy Sweater I knitted for Romeo. This is a DK weight sweater, so just about right for Oregon winter. Warm but not completely bulky. It’s knit in the round, which is my favorite way to knit, not so much because I like to knit in the round (though I do), but because I don’t like to do the sewing up after I get the knitting done.

Green sweater 2

The front cables are interesting, but not so tricky as to become tedious. The yarn is Berroco Ultra Alpaca Light. The color is “peat mix”. It matches Romeo’s eyes. The back is pretty basic. I have plans to make one of these for Ace in a dark aqua colorway at some point.

Green Sweater 1

 

The sleeves have a rib pattern which is also interesting while staying manly.

Green sweater 3

 

So there we are, a couple of knitting projects finally documented. My next plan is to catch up on documenting some of the most wearable things I’ve made lately, even if they aren’t the most exciting or innovative.

February Monthly Stitch Project: Mr. Smarty Pants

The Monthly Stitch theme for February was pants. Out of all the members of our household who need pants, Romeo is the one who needed them the most, so I made him so new jeans.

Romeo jeans 1

 

Obviously I did not make the top part of his outfit, would you believe that the shirt and hoodie came from Old Navy? All the jeans in his closet also came from Old Navy, but after 1 1/2 (or is it 2 1/2?) years, they are starting to wear out, one hole in the knees at a time.

Romeo jeans 3

I used Ottobre 1/2014, design #37. The line drawings and finished examples in the magazine have a distressed look, but I skipped that, since the distressing process makes the fabric weaker so it doesn’t last as long. I need boy’s jeans that last as close to forever as they can. It was a nice basic pattern to put together, and I made the size 128, which is the smallest size for this pattern, so I foresee many more of these over the next few years. For the next pair, I’m going to add some elastic to the waistband. The pattern doesn’t call for it, but Romeo is really slim, so he needs it.

The fabric is part of a very large piece of dark blue stretch denim from my stash, making this another #sewbluefebruary project. Romeo likes green, so I used green topstitching thread. The pocket linings and waistband are made of bacon-themed quilting cotton.

Romeo jeans 4

 

They passed the legitimacy test; when he wore them to school no one noticed that he was wearing anything special. As far as I know, that’s the main goal to aim for when making kid’s jeans, especially for boys.

I don’t know what impression he was doing for this picture, but here you go.

Romeo jeans 2

 

It was hat day at school, so he has a hat. His siblings had hats too, even Ace who isn’t in school yet borrowed his Dad’s hat to join in. Gru-cat opted for no hat, a practical decision considering how much pouncing he does on a daily basis.

Guinevere Hoodie

Guinevere’s hoodie is another one like the one I made her a couple months ago. The cuffs are extra long with thumb holes so she can keep her hands warm.

Stash busting stats: 12/50 projects, 22 1/2 yards.

 

My First Video and Pattern Pyramid Winner Revealed

February’s stash busting curating challenge is about showing stash fabrics some love. I decided this would be more fun to do in movie form, so made my first short film. I hope you enjoy it.

The one main thing I learned about my fabric stash (other than what an amazingly diverse selection of things I’m drawn to) is that it would be a lot smaller if I could use up those 10 fabrics instead of having to refold them and put them back onto that shelf. I’m not sure how I’m going to get them to fit.

It’s also time to do the give away for the Plus-Size Pattern Pyramid. I had seven comments, and none of them said they didn’t want to be entered, so I’m counting them all as entries. I gave them each a number so I could try out the random number generator.

Kelly = 1
Anne = 2
Virginia = 3
Kathy = 4
Kristi = 5
Amy = 6
MaZeLiving = 7

And the winner is…

random

 

Congratulations Kristi. I’ll be contacting you shortly to find out where you’d like the patterns sent.