Wednesday, July 15, 2015

Sari Dress

This is very special occasion sewing, indeed. My friend Krupa is getting married later this month, and it promises to be a spectacular, multi-day Indian wedding. Another dear friend gave me this beautiful sari from India a little while back, and I just knew it had to be one of the dresses I wore for the weekend. After attempting to hunt for a suitable vintage pattern for months with no luck, I finally decided to draft something up myself. I wanted a dress where the sari was the star of the show, and I think I've done it!
As I'm sure you can see, I chose the border print part of the sari for the skirt. I gathered it so that I could use it exactly as is, without having to do any additional hemming. For the bodice, I used the heavily embroidered section of the sari. I loved the neckline from the wiggle dress I made last November and decided to use that as my guide. It's a lovely boatneck in the front and deep V in the back, perfect to show off the gorgeous print.
I originally had much different ideas for construction. I had planned to underline the bodice, but I found that it sewed fairly well on its own. I used a size 10 needle for the entire time, and just took it very slowly, test stitching on scraps before I attempted anything with the finished fabric. I ended up lining the bodice in a cranberry silk sateen. It feels lovely! 
For the skirt, I thought I would need a lining, but realized it was completely opaque once I got it constructed, so I skipped that step. This section of the sari gathered wonderfully, but didn't take to seams particularly well. It bunched a bit, something a steam iron would normally press out, but I was concerned that high heat would melt it. I used a lower heat and a press cloth, which worked OK.  

The interesting, and wonderfully delightful, part about the sari was each piece felt and sewed so differently. The bodice felt like sewing a brocade, but the skirt felt more like some sort of nylon. It was a thrill to work on, and I can't wait to wear it to the big event! 

Wednesday, July 1, 2015

Polka Dot Alder Shirtdress

I'm on a polka dot roll! This is the dress that Me-Made May made. I saw so many adorable versions of the Alder during Me-Made May, that I promptly ordered a pattern and got to work. I wanted to get to work so quickly, in fact, that I skipped over a muslin and went straight to fashion fabric. Adventure!
This dress has such a cute shape to it and is a great summer shirtdress. I thought I would find the flat front paired with the gathers to be a bit silly, but in the end, it makes for a really nice silhouette. It's also distinctive from other shirtdress patterns for that reason, and I appreciate a twist on an old favorite. And pockets!
The fit turned out well, despite my devil-may-care approach to it. I only checked my sloper against the pattern before starting to make sure it'd be big enough and the length would work for my shorty torso. The dart placement even ended up being in the right place! I did noticed a little gaping at the bust, although it feels like I've got enough room there. Might be button placement, though. 

I made one change on the fly - the dress is intended to be a loosely fitted shirtdress, but I found it to be a little too loose. I ended up taking out 2.5" of ease at the back bodice only, at the side seams. I've still got plenty of ease left over. I did notice some pooling at my back in these photos, so I'm wondering if I might also need a small swayback adjustment. Or perhaps taking the ease out at the side seam only, instead of evenly distributed across the back waist, created a problem? What do you think? 
Minus that minor hiccup, there's lots of great little details in the construction of the Alder that you can see when you get up close. 
Oh, so cute! 

I do have three tips for you if you're going to make this pattern: 
  • Take care to cut the right front off where indicated on the pattern. I forgot to do this when cutting out the pattern, and it doesn't come up again in the instructions when you do the button band. Consequently, I puzzled over the extra couple of inches on my right front for a few days before I got unstuck. 
  • Baste the two yokes at the armhole before you attach the bias binding. This is in the instructions, but I believe it is referred to as basting the "shoulder edges" (step 7B). I missed this step and consequently didn't catch a layer in some spots. It wouldn't have been a problem if I'd have noticed right away, but I clipped and discovered it until I went to understitch. 
  • Follow the sew along on the Grainline Studio blog. I found the button bands and the corner where you attach the gathered skirt front to be challenging just following the instructions. 
Happy sewing!

Wednesday, June 17, 2015

Polka Dot Rayon Anna Dress

Well, hello Anna! I'm late to join the party on this pattern, and like the Elisalex I sewed last year, this one took me by surprise. Both of these By Hand London patterns are very different silhouettes than I usually sew, and both turned out to be quite handsome dresses. This one is made out of a polka dot rayon that gives it a great swish in the multi-panel skirt.
The construction was very straightforward, and I had to make minimal fit changes. Although, like my Elisalex, I found I was a different size in the front than in the back! The side seam should sit directly below the center of your armpit, effectively cutting you in half. I needed to shift it backward a little bit to sit in the right place, so I ended up with a slightly smaller back bodice piece than the front. I went through a similar exercise when I had the 2014 great fitting trials of the Cambie. Thanks to that episode, I can easily spot the problem now.
I did french seams as the finish, which worked really well with this rayon. The only trouble I had is that it's a little bulky at the waist seam and at the shoulder seam where I hemmed the sleeve. I did do a serged seam just at the edges of the zip, and then went back to a french seam under that. 
I hand-tacked down the facings to make sure they wouldn't budge on me. I also did a hook-and-eye, as the instructions called for, on the zipper. I don't particularly care for a  hook-and-eye at the top of a dress zip, though. I find I don't really need it to get the dress zipped up, and taking it clean to the top makes for such a nice finish. 

But, oh, look at those french seams! They're just beautiful! Worth stitching every seam twice, at least on this little number.
My favorite part about the Anna is those pleats instead of darts at the bust. It softens the bodice and still does a nice job of accentuating the bust. I like it so much that I've already started on a second one! I had such an itch after Me-Made May to do another embroidery project, that I decided to do an Anna Dress with a leaf embroidery detail. It may take me until the leaves fall in autumn to get it all done by hand, but I'm hoping it will be spectacular when I finish! 

Wednesday, June 3, 2015

Me-Made May 2015 Part 2

Another Me-Made May has passed, and as with last year, I find I am more eager than usual to sit down at my sewing machine. Seeing everyone's wonderful creations each day really gets my fingers twitching to stitch. Here's my daily outfit for the second half of the month.
New Look 6587 in Kelly Rosebud
Sewing Wiksten Tank
Button-Down Cambie
Home Sewing is Easy Emery (wink!)
Navy Gabardine Circle Skirt and Coco Tee
Hand-embroidered Simplicity 2195
Cotton + Steel Border Print Shirtwaist
"Sultry" Sundress
Scooter Dirndl
Wearing History 1940s Overalls
Butterick 8404
Elisalex
Cross-stitched Simplicity 1873 
Simplicity 3833
Cat Eye Dirndl (newly made, unblogged)
Striped Hallettsville Shirtwaist
You'll notice, as last year, that Oxford is completely worn out from all the selfies by the time we got to the end of the month. He's really going to have to get more stamina. 

Like New Years, Me-Made May is a nice reset button for my sewing. A chance to make new plans and feel like you're starting fresh. I step into June feeling invigorated to actually tackle some mending/altering on some things I dearly wanted to wear, but that need a little fixing. I also realized I really should do another embroidery project, so I got to work on that, too. I enjoy them tremendously, and the ones I've made are some of my most prized handmade garments. 

I'm also very grateful that there isn't a Me-Made November or February, because I'd be stuck. It's only cold a few months out of the year here in Austin, and not even that cold at that, so it's rare that I sew something for those chilly days. I'm determined to start earlier on those projects this year! 

Cheers!

Wednesday, May 27, 2015

Me-Made May 2015 Part 1

It's Me-Made May! The glorious time of year where your feeds are flooded with selfies and we get to find out what people really wear of what they sew. I quite enjoy it, mostly because I get to see so many faces I love from the sewing community every day. It's like you're there with me as I head off to work! Plus, it's a chance to see what Oxford will do when the camera is on.

Let's begin! Here's May 1 -15.

Laverne-Style Coco
Plaid Advance 6426
Bumblebee Dirndl
Floral Simplicity 3833
Black Eyelet New Look 6587
Feedsack Floral Cambie
Airplane Advance 6426 and Self-Drafted Cigarette Pants
Striped Coco and Black Cotton Dirndl
Gingham Sleeveless Emery 
Polka Dot Colette Moneta
Hawaiian Floral Gertie Shirtwaist
Tulip Emery
Simplicity 2195 with a Peter Pan Collar
Red Simplicity 3833
Self-Drafted Peplum

And a bonus me-made for my nephew! He's a year and a half now, and finally fitting into the Elephant Romper that I made him when he was born. These little rompers work so well that my brother and sister-in-law asked me to make him a few more, so I stitched up these two for him. 

The pattern is Kwik Sew 3730, and it also comes in a shirt variation. It's quite a workhorse pattern - Lukas has 2 shirts and 3 rompers from it now!
Stay tuned for the second half of the month, and you can also follow me on Instagram to see it live!