Yay! I won the Everyday Casual Sewalong Contest!

Hi, thanks to everyone who voted for me! I’m so happy to announce that I actually won a sewing contest! Woot!

How did this happen? Well, Mari of Seamster Patterns organized the second Sewing Indie Month this year, hosting it on Sew Independent. Last year I had entered the Dressed to the Nines contest and was a finalist with my first Anna Dress. This year I entered the Everyday Casual Sewalong Contest (you can see all the entries there). I needed more casual clothes in my wardrobe. To enter, you just had to make something from one of the participating indie designers in the month of September and post your photo by Oct. 11. I had already purchased the A-Frame skirt pattern by Blueprints for Sewing back in June so I made that skirt (pictured below). You can see more photos of my skirt on this post and read about construction details here.

Everyday Casual Sewalong Prizes - Sewing Indie Month 2015 - csews.com

Mary of Idle Fancy hosted the Everyday Casual Sewalong Contest. Thanks for hosting, Mary! And thanks so much to Mari for organizing Sewing Indie Month! You put together some excellent prize packages!

Here’s what I got:

AND
WOW – A huge THANK YOU to all the participating designers and companies! I lost my job on September 30 when the publication I had worked for shut down. So finishing my skirt gave me something to do in the aftermath. And winning this contest is really wonderful. I look forward to sewing these great patterns. Thanks again to everyone who voted for my skirt! 🙂

 

My Fascinator – Spring for Cotton Accessories, Part 2

Hi,

Have you every made a hat or fascinator to wear with a dress or outfit that you made? I’ve made a few hats on my sewing machine but not for any particular garments. I just made them because I liked the hat pattern. This year, for the first time, I actually made a fascinator to go with a dress. In April I participated in the Spring for Cotton sewalong hosted by Rochelle of Lucky Lucille. Besides making a cotton dress from a vintage pattern, I also made a fascinator and fabric belt to go with the dress.

I bought this interesting little feathered headpiece from All Things Vintage in Oakland. This gem of a shop has lovely vintage clothes and hats. Nearly every time I go, I buy another vintage hat (or two). I guess you could say that I’m a hat addict. I can’t stop buying them. And I’m especially fond of vintage hats. This feathered piece wasn’t attached to anything. The ladies at All Things Vintage suggested putting it on top of a pill box, which seemed like an intriguing idea.

Feathered headpiece - csews.com

I actually started to make a pillbox – I bought a buckram pillbox frame from Lacis and some solid blue fabric from Britex Fabrics but I didn’t have enough time to finish it. There’s a lot of hand sewing involved and I got a late start on the dress, which needed to be photographed by April 30. I didn’t start sewing the dress with my fashion fabric until the last week of April.

But I had a backup plan – attach the feather piece to a headband, which I also got at Lacis. But before I did that I decided to cover the somewhat faded center circle of feathers with the eyelet fabric leftover from my dress. I sewed it directly on top of the feathered circle.

Fascinator with fabric center - csews.com

Then I covered a plastic hair band with black Petersham ribbon and attached it to the hairband. I dabbed a small bit of fabric glue on the end of the headband and then wound it around the headband until I reached the other end and put a little fabric glue on that end, waited for it to dry and trimmed off the excess ribbon. Here’s a detail of the ends of the headband.

Petersham headband detail - csews.com

Some people call Petersham grosgrain. Petersham is the ribbon that has tiny ridges on both sides. Grosgrain has straight edges. Petersham has a bit more give to it and will curve more easily than grosgrain. That’s why it’s used in millinery – to trim a hat and to go on the inside of hats as a sweat band. Grosgrain will curve a little with some heat as long as it’s not 100 percent synthetic.

I didn’t want to attach the feathered piece directly to the Petersham ribbon so I sewed a piece of black double-sided fleece to the Petersham. Then I sewed the feather piece to the fleece.

Feathered piece attached to headband - fascinator- csews.com

And here’s the finished fascinator!

Fascinator completed - Spring for Cotton - csews.com

I positioned it a bit off-center. I like to wear hats slightly cocked to the side so I thought I’d do something similar with the fascinator.

Feather fascinator - Spring for Cotton Dress accessory - csews.com

And here’s the complete ensemble!

Spring for Cotton dress - vintage Simplicity 2439 - csews.com

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My Spring for Cotton Dress – Construction Details

Hi,

I hope you’re enjoying some spring sewing! Have you sewed any eyelet fabric? If you have any tips, please pass them on. This was my first experience sewing with it.

A few days ago, I finished the dress I made for Lucky Lucille’s Spring for Cotton sewalong. The challenge was to make something from a vintage or vintage-inspired pattern using 100 percent cotton fabric. I went through my small stash of vintage patterns decided to make a sleeveless dress. This pattern was for a 36 bust, 28 waist, and 38 hips. I added a lining to my version.

Simplicity 2439 - vintage sewing pattern - csews.com

My waist and hips are bigger than the pattern (especially because I’ve gained about ten pounds since last year – the result of a busy job and not making time to exercise). My waist is about 30.5 inches (77.5 cm) and my hips 41 inches (104 cm). I made most of my adjustments before I cut my muslin, which you can read about in my post WIP: a Vintage Dress Pattern and Japanese Top. Here’s my brief summary of the flat pattern adjustments before I made my muslin:

  • 1/4″ small bust adjustment,
  • dropped armhole 1 inch,
  • added 1/2 inch (1.3 cm) to side seams of front and back bodice (total of 2 inches),
  • added 1/2 inch to skirt waist
  • added 3/4 inch to hip area.

Here’s what my muslin looked like (pardon the bad bathroom lighting). I decided to leave off the pocket detail because I didn’t really like it on me. They were decorative anyway, not actual pockets.

Muslin of dress - spring for cotton - csews.com

At first glance it looked like it fit quite well and I thought, great, now I can cut my fashion fabric. But when I turned around and looked at the back, I could see that there was a little gaping of the back neckline, which is a bit of a scoop neck that’s lower than the front neckline. Hmmmm. I had not encountered this issue before. But I hadn’t made a dress with a scoop back neckline either.

So I went online to see what pattern adjustment to make – and stumbled across Ginger Makes post: By Hand London Anna Dress: Back Neckline Adjustment. I don’t have narrow shoulders so this was the first-time pattern adjustment for me. Before I did anything to my pattern, I took off my muslin, pinched in where I thought most of the gaping occurred, then pinned it in pace with safety pins. I guess that 1/4-inch (slightly less than 1 cm) would do the trick.

1/4 inch back neckline adjustment - csews.com

Back bodice – pinned.
Bodice - back adjustment muslin - csews.com

I tried it on again and it looked good (sorry I didn’t take a photo of that), so I decided to skip making another muslin. I made a 1/4″ flat pattern adjustment, following Ginger Makes’ clear instructions. It was easy – just draw a line from the armhole to the area that gapes the most, cut along that line and overlap 1/4″. The point turner is where I sliced the pattern and overlapped it 1/4 inch. to see a larger version of this photo, click on it once and it will open another window, then click on the photo again, you’ll see a large version.

Back neckline adjustment - Simplicity 2439 vintage sewing pattern - csews.com

Then I did a bit of a reality check, tried on the muslin one last time and realized that the waist needed a little more ease. So I added another 1/4-inch (.6 cm) to the waist of the bodice and skirt, crossed my fingers, and began cutting my fashion fabric.

Meanwhile, I also did a muslin of the jacket but decided I didn’t like the boxy shape. So I didn’t make it.

Jacket - vintage Simplicity 2439 - Spring for cotton - csews.com

The challenge of making this dress is that I was using eyelet fabric for the first time and lining the entire dress with a contrast fabric. Here’s an image I posted on Instagram when I was shopping for my fabric at Stonemountain & Daughter Fabrics for this dress.

Eyelet fabric with fuschia - csews.com

I chose the hot pink fabric for the color – more like a fuchsia – rather than its weight, which was quilt weight. I didn’t think it would make the dress layers too thick because the eyelet fabric was lightweight and had a bit of drape to it. So I thought they would balance each other out. As a general rule though, it’s better to match the drape/weight of the fabrics you’re sewing together. In retrospect, it would have been better to choose a lining fabric that was lighter weight as you’ll see below. But the challenge of this sewalong was to use 100 percent cotton and I liked this color so I went with it.

Materials

  • 3 1/2 yards eyelet fabric [amount for dress and jacket, which I didn’t make]
  • 3 yards of lining fabric
  • 1 1/4 yards of 3/4-inch ban-rol waistband interfacing
  • 1-inch buckle kit
  • Gutterman thread
  • Schmetz 60/10 needle

I got my fabric from Stonemountain & Daughter Fabrics in Berkeley, ban-rol from Britex Fabrics (notions floor manager Natalie suggested that I use this for my belt), the buckle kit from Lacis in Berkeley. You can also buy the buckle kit at Lacis’s online store (search “buckle kit”).

As I began sewing this dress, I realized I needed to figure out if I would sew my hot pink lining fabric as lining or underlining. (For a good explanation of underlining, see Seamstress Erin’s post When to Underline your Sewing.) I decided that it would depend on the effect on the eyelet – and how thick the fabric would be. So the bodice was sewn as lining and parts of the skirt were sewn as lining and underlining.

I decided that the darts could all be sewn separately, rather than sewing the lining fabric together with the fashion fabric. so I sewed the all the darts first. Four in the front bodice…

vintage Simplicity 2439 - Bodice - front lining - csews.com

two in the back bodice…

vintage Simplicity 2439 back bodice - csews.com

and four in the skirt back. This is one side of the skirt back, which has a center seam and kick pleat.

vintage Simplicity 2439 - back skirt darts - csews.com

I also got a nice tip via Instagram from @sewbrooke, who blogs at Custom Style. She told me if the fabric seemed thick, I could press the darts one way for the lining and another way for the fashion fabric to take care of any bulk. I took her advice.

The directions called for cutting the darts and pressing them open, which I had not seen before. I posted that photo on my IG feed (@csews) and asked if I needed to do this. Brooke said that this is often done in menswear and more necessary with a suiting or wool fabric. So I just pressed my darts.

Dart instructions - csews.com

However, the pleats in the front needed to be sewn with both fabrics sandwiched together. Otherwise, you wouldn’t see any of the pink through the eyelet.

As you can see here, the darts are slim enough that you don’t really notice that there isn’t any pink behind them. The pleats are a bit thick – something I hadn’t thought about when I bought my lining fabric. (I forgot to make a loop to hold down the end of the belt but I did make one the next day so I had it on when I wore the dress to work on Friday. It doesn’t stick out anymore.)

Spring for cottonn - Simplicity 2439 dress front detail - csews.com

I sewed my bodice pieces, following the instructions in How to Line a Sleeveless Dress from Blithe Stitches, a tutorial I used when I made a dress a couple of years ago. This dress has a side zipper. I left open the area just below the left armhole.

The skirt got a little tricky. I had to figure out how to sew the kick pleat in the back with the lining. The instructions direct you to first sew the two back skirt pieces together with  5/8″ seam allowance, and then sew the center back seam, which is about three inches in from the other seam. You then fold over this three-inch bit of fabric to one side and sew it together when you attach the bodice to the skirt. This center back seam runs about 2/3 of the skirt length. The area below the center back seam forms the kick pleat. I improvised as I figured out how to sew the kick pleat with the eyelet and lining fabrics. (I cut my eyelet fabric perpendicular to the grain so I could use the scalloped edge of the selvage as my hem. The dress hem is a straight edge, not a curved one, which makes it possible to do this.)

instructions - kick pleat - csews.com

I skipped the first seam with the 5/8″ seam allowance and just sewed the center back seam, leaving the area below the pattern mark open.

Skirt back - kick pleat - csews.com

Then I sewed the center back seam of the eyelet fabric and pinned it to the waist of the lining fabric. Clearly, the dress would be too thick around the waist – six layers of fabric (kick pleat adds another two layers) – so I cut the fashion fabric above the pleat with my pinking scissors, close to the seam line. I didn’t trim the lining fabric.

Kick pleat - eyelet fabric - csews.com

Then I placed the lining fabric on top of the eyelet fabric and sewed the 5/8″ seam. Here’s a detail of the kick pleat before sewing the 5/8″ seam.

Kick pleat sewn

After I finished sewing the kick pleat, I was ready to sew the skirt side seams. I sewed the lining and the eyelet fabric together at the side seams. It was hard to line up the eyelet across the seam. I began at the bottom so I would be sure that the eyelet lined up at that scalloped edge. I pinned and eased as much as possible but it was all slightly off on the side seams. I decided to let that go and not get stressed out about it. I’m not sure what made it tricky – maybe because I cut the fabric against the grain or that the embroidery of the eyelet distorts the fabric slightly so things are slightly off? I didn’t use any stabilizer so maybe that would have helped.

Here’s what it looks like completed.  The seam in the center is that 5/8″ seam I mentioned above.

Kick pleat completed - csews.com

But you really don’t see that seam in the back pleat. Without the pleat, I’m sure I wouldn’t be able to walk in this dress.

Spring for cotton - vintage Simplicity 2439 - csews.com

I attached the bodice to the skirt (note the zipper tape on the right). The waist seam is really thick – four layers of fabric and even more where the front pleats are. If I had to do this again, I would have picked a much lighter weight lining fabric. And I would add more ease in the hips. It’s not that it’s tight there but when I sit down, there’s small pool of fabric in my lap, which doesn’t look very good.

Waist seam - inside - csews.com

And here’s another photo of the finished dress!

Spring for cotton - vintage Simplicity 2439 dress pattern - csews.com

I really love the colors! I think I’ll do another post on accessories for this dress – the belt and fascinator. I was going to include info on making the belt and fascinator but it’s getting really long so I’ll save that for another day! Thanks for visiting and happy sewing!

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Spring for Cotton Dress

Hi,

I finally finished my Spring for Cotton dress! And just under the wire, too. Today, April 30, is the deadline day to post photos. I couldn’t take photos until I got home from work today. Yep – rushed home, changed into the dress, traipsed a couple blocks to my location, set up my tripod and took these photos. This dress is made out of 100 percent cotton – lining and fashion fabric.

Spring for Cotton - dress from vintage Simplicity 2439 - csews.com

As you can see, the sun is a bit harsh around 6 pm in California – thus the major shadows. I really didn’t have time to edit the photos so what you see below is just what I selected in a hurry. I’ll go back over my photos over the weekend and either add more or replace some of these with other versions.

Spring for Cotton dress - vintage Simplicity 2439 - csews.com

And here’s the back view – as you can see, the back neckline scoops lower than the front. Luckily I noticed on my muslin that I had a bit of a gaping issue but I fixed it. I’ll post construction details later! [Update (3 May 2015): I replaced the earlier photo. This is a better view of the back.]

Spring for cotton - vintage Simplicity 2439 - csews.com

UPDATE (3 May 2015): Here’s another photo of the dress. This photos shows how well the bodice fits. Unfortunately, the belt is sticking out a bit. I forgot to make the fabric loop to keep it in place. I finished the belt the night before I took the photos. But I made a loop the day after my photo shoot – just in time to wear it to work and then to a jazz concert that evening – Esperanza Spaulding at the San Francisco Jazz Center.

Spring for Cotton - vintage Simplicity dress 2439 - csews.com

A few construction notes: Top is lined, skirt front is underlined because of the pleats in front, back skirt is lined. I thought the combination of the eyelet fabric and the lining would be too thick to sew the darts together so I did them separately. There are four darts in the back of the skirt, two darts in the back bodice and four darts in the front bodice (two side and two front darts). And there are six pleats in front!

I made the belt last night using the same fabric as my lining.

I’ll post construction photos in a separate post. Thanks for visiting!

UPDATE, 6 May: My post on My Spring for Cotton Dress – Construction Details.

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WIP: A Vintage Dress Pattern and Japanese Top

Hi, are you doing any spring sewing this month? I’m attempting to make at least two very different garments: A dress from a vintage dress pattern – Simplicity 2439 – for Lucky Lucille’s Spring for Cotton Sewing Challenge and a top from She Wears the Pants, a the new English translation of a Japanese sewing book by Yuko Takada, to be released by Tuttle Publishing in May. This is a bit ambitious for me because I don’t usually make more than one thing a month, really. I’m not the speediest at sewing because I can only work on things after work or on the weekends. Last week in my Spring Sewing post, I decided that I was going to make this dress and something from this book. I did that post entirely on my phone and only looked at it on a computer today – there were some major image size problems, which I just fixed. Oops.

Last weekend I finally got around to tracing this uncut Simplicity pattern …

Simplicity 2439 vintage dress and jacket - csews.com

As you can see the pieces were not on big sheets of tissue paper. Instead, each pattern piece was separate but needed to be cut – or in this case traced. I didn’t want to cut the pattern because I know I’ll be making a small bust adjustment and adding more ease to the waist and hips. This pattern has a 36 inch bust, 28 inch waist, and 38 inch hips. I taped down the pattern pieces to my work table and then traced them. Before I used the tape I made it slightly less tacky by placing the tape on my pants and also on my hand. Then it would be less likely to tear the tissue when I removed the tape.

Simplicity 2439 vintage dress pattern - Spring for Cotton - csews.com

Here are the front and back bodice pieces.

Front and back bodice - Simplicity 2439 - Spring for Cotton - csews.com

After I traced this bodice, I compared it to my Emery Dress bodice for which I made a 1/4″ small bust adjustment (SBA).

Emery Dress bodice and Simplicity 2439 bodice - csews.com

Clearly, I need to drop the armscye (armhole) of the bodice. That’s a mighty high armsceye! I decided to make a few flat pattern adjustments before I make my muslin – and hopefully avoid having to make more than one muslin of this dress. I dropped the armscye about an inch, made a 1/4″ SBA, added 1/2″ to the front and back side seams of the bodice and skirt pattern pieces for a total of 2 inches, and I added 3/4″ to the hips of the skirt for a total of 3 inches. I’m aiming to fit a 30-inch waist and 41-inch hips. (The bodice and skirt pieces are cut on the fold – so just multiply by 4.)

Last week I bought this bright blue eyelet fabric for this dress and jacket. I’ve been contemplating these three fabrics to underline as a contrasting fabric: Lime green, turquoise blue, and a fuchsia/hot pink.

Eyelet fabric with lime green contrast - csews.com

Eyelet fabric with Turquoise - csews.com

Eyelet fabric with fuschia - csews.com

If you follow me on Instagram (@csews), you may have already seen these photos. Many people liked the turquoise but fans of bright colors really liked the lime green. A couple of days later I posted the fuchsia image. I like fuchsia the best. I think I’ll be making another trip to Stonemountain & Daughter Fabrics to get my contrast fabric – that’s where I got the eyelet fabric as well.

All those pieces are traced and so is the pattern No. 4, Top with Epaulettes, from She Wears the Pants. It’s the striped knit top on the cover. But I’ll be leaving off the epaulettes – not my thing really. I have broad shoulders so why draw more attention to them with that detail?

I made a flat pattern adjustment to this pattern as well – a total of two inches of ease to the hips.

She Wears the Pants - Top with Epaulettes - csews.com

I’m planning on making the top using this striped knit from my stash. The stripes aren’t very wide though – slightly less than 1 cm – so I hope it doesn’t drive me crazy trying to get them to match. I have a couple of yards of it in my stash. I made a striped Cake Patterns Hummingbird peplum top from this fabric a couple of years ago.

Black and white striped knit fabric - csews.com

I guess you could say that my style is eclectic. 😉 What can I say? I like vintage patterns and I like Japanese sewing books. Next weekend, I need to cut my fabric and hopefully get sewing!

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Spring Sewing

Hi,

What are you sewing for spring? I’m going to try working on two projects this month: a vintage dress for Spring for Cotton – a group sewalong organized by Lucky Lucille (March 20-April 30) …

… and a garment from She Wears the Pants, a Japanese sewing book by Yuko Takada, which I’m reviewing for Tuttle Publishing.

I’m thinking of making the vintage dress and jacket in cotton pique. My goal is to wear it to a magazine awards event on May 1. The trade magazine I work for is a finalist for nine (!) awards. The awards event is in Los Angeles and it will be warm down there!

I like the striped top on the cover of She Wears the Pants, and a few other tops in this book. A couple of the mini dresses would work as tunics, such as this one. I wouldn’t wear anything this short but I would wear it with pants. (Photo taken with phone so excuse the quality. In fact this entire post was done on my phone!)

After I review this book, I’ll be holding a giveaway for a copy of it – so stay tuned!

Please feel free to share your spring sewing plans – and happy sewing!

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Finished: My Skirt from ‘Basic Black’

Hi, I finally finished my Basic Black skirt for the Japan Sew Along! I began participating in the sew along (make something from a Japanese sewing pattern book) in early February but I didn’t complete it until this past weekend –  unlike some of the other sew along participants who finished their garments in February, such as Sew Busy Lizzy who made TWO versions of a skirt from Stylish Skirts and MaciNic of The Somnolent Dachshund, who made some great tops – one from Basic Black and another from Drape Drape 2, which she blogged about here.

Skirt from Basic Black by Sato Watanbe - Japan Sew Along - csews.com

You can see many other Japan Sew Along projects on the blog Tanoshii, which is where Catrin is hosting the sewalong. Be sure to check out her post Japan Sew Along Finale I – to see the shirt she made with a fabulous fabric!

My sewalong project is the only skirt pattern in the Japanese sewing pattern book Basic Black: 26 Edgy Essentials for the Modern Wardrobe by Sato Watanabe (Tuttle Publishing). I was going to include my review of the book in this post but it was getting super long. So I’ll post the review tomorrow, along with a giveaway for the book! Yes, lucky me, in mid-February, Brandon, the publisher’s marketing guy, contacted me asking if I’d be interested in reviewing some of their recent or upcoming titles and even offered to send copies for me to give away at a Bay Area Sewists meetup! (I’m the organizer for the group.) Of course I was interested and asked if he could also send me a copy of Basic Black. (I was using a copy I checked out of the Berkeley Public Library.) Come back tomorrow to enter the drawing to win a copy of Basic Black. Don’t you love the dress on the cover?

Basic Black by Sato Watanabe - csews.com

In the book, each garment is assigned a letter of the alphabet so it goes (you guessed it) from A to Z. I made the A-line Block Skirt, pattern T. It is one of the more fitted patterns in the book; the others are what the designer describes as “loose” or “garments with darts and shaping seams.” This skirt is made up of 16 vertical panels – 8 for the front and 8 for the back – an invisible zipper on the side and the waist finished with self-made bias tape. As you’ll in the photos below, the top panels gradually curve in from hip to waist. No darts, tucks, or pleats. It’s a very clean elegant design.

I made size L, the largest size (the smallest is XS). You can read about the muslin and pattern adjustments in my WIP post on this skirt which also includes details on sizing and how this size is somewhat similar to the By Hand London Anna Dress – US size 12/UK size 16 or the size 44 Deer and Doe Chardon Skirt. However, the Basic Black skirt has much less ease at the hip and thigh area. I didn’t make any pattern adjustments to the hips of the Anna or Chardon I made.

Unfortunately, this skirt doesn’t look very interesting in the photos because you can’t see the details such as the 16 panels and the top stitching. But believe me, the details in this skirt are lovely. I’ve got some close-up photos below that show some of the detail. I’m sorry that my photo skills are just not up to photographing black – things are either over- or under-exposed. 🙁

Skirt from Basic Black by Sato Watanabe - Japanese sewing patern book - csews.com

Construction Details

The skirt features top stitching along each panel’s seams, except for the side seams. I admit the top stitching got pretty tedious but my stitch-in-the-ditch foot came in handy. If you follow me on Instagram (@csews) you may have seen some of my posts about it. The piece of paper on the left is one of my labels. I identified each panel on a small piece of paper and attached them with a safety-pin (front top center, front top side, back top center etc.).

Stitch in the ditch foot - top stitching - csews.com

Here’s a detail of the skirt panels with labels either on the front or back. I didn’t remove them until the back and front pieces were all sewn together. It would be really easy to lose track of them.

Skirt panels - Basic Black by Sato Watanabe - csews.com

Here’s what the top stitching looks like. The photo isn’t great because it’s taken with my iPhone but I just couldn’t get the exposure right on my digital camera. (It kept wanting to shoot it as a night scene.) There’s top stitching on both sides of the seams. This is a detail of one side of the skirt with all eight panels attached.

Top stitching detail - skirt - csews.com

Here’s a close-up I posted on Instagram. You can see the texture of the pique and the top stitching here. I should mention that this is my first time sewing pique. I wasn’t sure which was the right side. Luckily, Brooke of Custom Style pointed me in the right direction and even took a photo of her pique fabric and posted it on IG for me to see. The textured side is the right side. Thank you, Brooke!

Top stitching detail - csews.com

I had eight of these “intersections” to match across seam lines – with a little help from my pins…

Pinning skirt panel seams - csews.com

Here’s what the skirt looks like on the inside.

Skirt from Basic Black - csews.com

If you haven’t made anything from a Japanese sewing book, pay very close attention to the diagrams, particularly because the actual written instructions are often minimal and this book is no exception.

There are only six steps listed at the top of the page for this skirt and they are just one sentence each. The diagrams include a few more words and a lot of detail: cutting layout, seam allowances, which order you should sew the panels, where you install the zipper, and how to finish the waist and hem, etc. As you can see, in Step 1., you sew each top and bottom panel together. Then you sew each side panel to a center panel. The diagram tells you which pieces to sew first and where and when you sew the top stitching. Pretty succinct, eh?

Basic Black - skirt instructions - diagram - csews.com

I should mention that I first placed my pattern pieces right side up on my fabric, and then I noticed that the pattern pieces didn’t quite match the cutting layout in the book. But when I flipped my pattern pieces over and it did match. The book does NOT say to place your pattern pieces right side down. So I made a note in the margin. I don’t know how much it matters except that you use slightly less fabric by flipping the pattern pieces over, which gives you more fabric to cut the bias strips. There is no pattern piece for the bias strip. Just make sure you cut a length that’s long enough to go around the waist, plus seam allowance. Give yourself an extra inch or so – you can always trim the excess fabric. I had 55″ wide fabric so I only needed one piece of bias tape. I didn’t need to cut a second short piece.

A-line block skirt - Basic Black - cutting layout - csews.com

[New edit, 13 March 2015 – I forgot to mention this when I first wrote this post: The Center Back Top and Center Front Bottom pattern pieces are the only two pieces that have a grainline marked on them. That seemed odd when I traced the pattern pieces. But once I began to place my pattern pieces on the fabric, I realized that some of the pattern pieces were parallel to the selvage or the fold so it didn’t matter. This is another reason to pay very close attention to each diagram in the book.]

I picked this skirt because I wanted a wardrobe staple and I wanted to see if I could make a skirt that would fit well and not shift when I’m walking. My A-line RTW (ready-to-wear) skirts fit me in the hips but are loose at the waist so after I walk a block or so, the skirt slowly moves so that the side zipper usually ends up center front.

This skirt is simple to make but takes a bit of patience because of all the pressing and top stitching. Note: The instructions for this pattern do NOT mention pressing. I think the designer assumes you know this. I just mention it here as a gently reminder. Press after each seam you sew or your top stitching won’t look very good.

I unpicked a couple of seams because they didn’t line up. I also made my construction a little more complicated by adding a lining, which I machine-basted at the waist before adding the binding. Here’s the lining around the invisible zipper. I hand stitched the lining to the zipper tape. (See the zig zap stitch on the right? I didn’t notice that until halfway through before switching to a straight stitch. Oops. I was finishing some of my seams with a zig zag stitch but then I stopped because I figured the top stitching also helped finish the seams. There are no instructions about finishing seams. )

Skirt lining detail - csews.com

Then I attached the bias tape binding to the right side.

Bias binding at waist - csews.com

If I make the skirt again, I might consider eliminate the bias binding, adding seam allowance, and attaching a lining. Here’s what it looks like from the inside. You fold over the binding, top stitch through the layers just below the seam line, catching the binding on the other side. You can sort of see where my stitches went off the binding (to the right of the zipper). I think I’ll hand stitch that bit to the waist.

Lining - zipper - csews.com

My adjustments to the Basic Black A-Line Block Skirt:

  • added 1 cm (3/8″) to hips and upper thigh to give me a little more ease
  • added a lining (see my WIP post for how I drafted a lining using my muslin)
  • added fusible black bias tape around invisible zipper to reinforce fabric
  • hemmed the skirt using hem facing tape instead folding it because I wanted it to be longer (I hemmed my Chardon skirts with hem tape, which you can see in this post.)

Materials

  • 2 yards black cotton pique
  • 2 yards black Bemberg lining
  • 70/10 Schmetz needle
  • black all-purpose thread
  • 9-inch black invisible zipper
  • hook and eye
  • 3/8″ black fusible bias tape
  • black hem tape

My fashion fabric is from Stonemountain & Daughter Fabrics – using my birthday gift card from my husband. I picked this cotton pique because I really like the texture and I didn’t want the skirt to be a boring solid black skirt. My wardrobe really needed a long black skirt, which is why I picked this pattern. I got the lining on sale at Britex Fabrics.

Here are a few more photos of my finished skirt. You can sort of see the skirt panels and a hint of top stitching. It’s tricky to shoot black when you’re using a timer and focusing on a wall instead of yourself. (Yes, all photos were by me. Heheh.)

Skirt from Basic Black by Sato Watanabe - Japan Sew Along - csews.com

Back view… and in case you are wondering – those sandals are from Kenneth Cole. I got them last year in San Francisco. They zip up in the back!

Skirt from Basic Black by Sato Watanabe - Japan Sew Along - csews.com

You can see the top stitching here because I could actually focus on my skirt for this photo.

Skirt from Basic Black by Sato Watanabe - Japan Sew Along - csews.com

Thanks to Catrin for hosting the Japan Sew Along! I have more things I want to make from Basic Black, which you can read about tomorrow – and enter the giveaway for the book!

Happy Sewing!

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Japanese Pattern Book Sizing

Stylish dress book - Japanese sewing patterns - csews.com

I’m participating in this year’s Japan Sew Along, which I wrote about earlier this month here. In that post, I expressed frustration at the sizing of Japanese pattern books. Based on the measurements in the Stylish Dress Book, it seemed to me that size L would be too small for me because I’m 5′ 8″ (1.73 M). But then I got an interesting comment on that post, which made me think I need to reexamine my assumptions of Japanese pattern book sizing. EmSewCrazy said:

I have sewn a couple things from Japanese sewing books. I’m 5′ 10″ and have a 37″ bust. The biggest thing I can say is MEASURE THE PATTERN!!!
I cannot emphasize this enough. They tend to wear their patterns with much more ease than we do and not being so “ethereal” we look like we’re wearing tents. So making the L size often works for me I just have less style ease than the pattern intended but I prefer that. The last dress I made in a woven that had sleeves so the broad shoulders came into play, ended up working well when I took a smaller tuck than the pattern called for and added a bit extra seam allowance in the shoulder area.

With knits I cut the large with no seam allowances and it ends up working well with the stretch of the fabric.

I have to add length in the appropriate areas but I have to do that regardless of what pattern company I’m using. The exception is if I want it to turn out as a tunic top instead of a dress. Then the length is pretty close for me. :)

… I just love Japanese patterns and I feel they get a bad rap because of sizing when if you do the flat pattern measuring there is enough room for us “bigger” women in them.

Her comment made me realize that I need to measure the actual pattern pieces and see how much ease there is. Maybe I jumped the gun in my 2013 post on Everyday Dresses, in which I complained that size L was too small for me.

So it turns out EmSewCrazy is correct about ease. I looked at the measurements for a shift dress in the Stylish Dress book, doing a rough approximation of where the bust, waist and hip would be and here’s what I got for size L:

  • Bust – 40.5 inches
  • Waist – 41.5 inches
  • Hips – 45.5 inches

My bust is 38 inches, waist 31.5 inches, hips 43 inches. So depending on how much ease I want, I don’t really need to add much to a size L. Also, I have a small bust, which is a benefit for working with Japanese patterns.

Thus size L may indeed be fit you quite well. Of course, it’s much easier to figure out fit when books give you finished measurements. The book Basic Black by Sato Watanabe does provide finished measurements. Some of the garments are fitted and some are designed to fit more loosely. She provides measurements for the different designs.

I just checked this book out from my local library. I really like the skirts and dresses in it. I do wear black a lot – though I think any of the patterns in the book can be made with any colors or prints you want. No need to limit yourself to one color!

Now I can’t decide which pattern book to use: Stylish Dress Book, Pocchari Girl’s Sewing Book, Basic Black? I think my fabric options will help me decide. It was my birthday last week and one of my presents from my husband was a gift card to my local fabric store Stonemountain and Daughter Fabrics. I went shopping last weekend and here’s what I got – a black cotton pique, a textured wool velvet, and this pretty cotton lawn print.

Fabric - cottons and wool - csews.com

I was thinking I could use the pique to make this A-line skirt in Basic Black. I like the panels in it.

A-line Block Skirt - Basic Black - csews.com

The wool velvet could make a really nice version of this vest in Basic Black. The book recommends making it in corduroy. Sorry for the odd cropping but the book doesn’t show the full vest – just these partial shots.

Whimsical vest - Basic Black by Sato Watanabe - csews.com

The cotton lawn could be one of the shift dresses in the Stylish Dress Book. Oh, and I just got a black cotton/linen remnant from Britex Fabrics today for about $20. The store is having a 30 percent off sale next Monday (President’s Day holiday). I didn’t want to wait until then because it’ll likely be gone by the time I get there. There aren’t too many linen remnants available.

I’m thinking I want to use the fabrics I just bought and make all those garments I mentioned above. If you’ve made anything from Basic Black or Stylish Dress Book, please let me know!

What are you making now?

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Japan Sew Along 2015

Japanese sewing books - csews.com

I was on Instagram a couple of weeks ago and saw that @Sewbusylizzy (of the blog Sew Busy Lizzy) had regrammed an image from @stoffbuero about her Japan Sew Along, which just began. When I saw it, I thought, should I participate or not? I’ve got these four Japanese pattern books in my collection but only made one thing (not blogged) – from Shape Shape – and it was too small. It was my first Japanese pattern book and I forgot to add seam allowance and size L was too small anyway.

The blog Tanoshii features Japanese sewing books, at least from what I can tell. She blogs in German and hosted a Japan Sew Along last year as well. I didn’t know about that one. Her schedule for the Japan Sew Along are in German, followed by English translations posted in italics. You just have to scroll down to find the English. (The hashtag is #2015jsa.)

In 2013 I bought the Stylish Dress Book: Clothing for Everyday Wear because I wanted to make some everyday dresses BUT I didn’t realize until after I bought it that size large was more like a medium. The dimensions for Large are 36 5/8″ (93 cm) bust; 29 1/8″ (74 cm) waist, and 38 5/8″ (98 cm) hip.  And there was no XL. Too bad. I had pre-ordered it on Amazon because I was seduced by the photos. But who was I kidding? I have broad shoulders and at 5′ 8″ (1.73 m) I’m much taller than the average Japanese woman. So I haven’t made anything from that book yet.

I bought it because I wanted to make some “everyday” dresses because it seemed as if the dresses I was making were more for work or fancy occasions. In fact, I wrote a post back then about my desire for Everyday Dresses but since then I’ve only made one dress that really seems to fit that description – my Bluegingerdoll Winifred dress.

Before I saw Lizzy’s regram, I just happened to get a comment from Nobu Murakawa, an Etsy seller in Japan (JapanLovelyCrafts) who sells fabric, Japanese sewing pattern books, and craft supplies. She read my 2013 post about the Stylish Dress BookHips, “Husky” Girls, and Japanese Sewing Patterns, and commented:

I have read your blog. I am also a husky girl of weight 70+ . Why don’t you try one of these Japanese sewing books that helped me a lot to sew cute dresses for me.

She provided a link to a Japanese sewing book with larger patterns; it was described like this:

Large Size Clothing – Japanese Easy Sewing Pattern Book – Chubby Woman Dress Clothes – Blouse, Shirt, Tunic, Pants, Tops, Coat

OK – I admit the “Chubby Woman” description gave me pause but I thought it might actually be easier to grade down and do an SBA (small bust adjustment) than to grade up on the other pattern books.

In case you’re wondering what “pocchari” means, well, I looked it up. Apparently it’s Japanese slang for “chubby” but in a positive sense;  it’s also a fashion trend in Japan that’s more about celebrating a full figure rather than hiding it or being ashamed of it. So pocchari fashion is bold and colorful. You can read more about it in this Guardian article “Japan’s pocchari trend celebrates chubby women.”

I weigh more than 70 kilos (150 lbs.), but I’m not petite in height so I’m not exactly “pocchari” though I do have many days when I feel like I am!

I decided to take a chance and order the book ($25.50 + $8.50 for shipping) and it arrived last Thursday, less than two weeks later. (The seller graciously upgraded me on shipping at her expense, so it would arrive earlier than the usual 2-3 weeks for economy air. Thank you!). It was very carefully packed in a plastic bag and bubble wrap, plus she included a cute note along with a packet of Hello Kitty tissues. It was her only copy, which is why I didn’t include her link. (If you want to order it, I found a used copy on Amazon for $28.99 + $3.99 shipping.)

Pocchari girl's sewing book

I don’t usually order books from overseas because of the shipping costs. I tend to be a bargain shopper for sewing books getting them at used bookstores or on sale at Amazon. Of the books in the photo at the top of this post – the one on the far left was a $5 discovery at the San Francisco Public Library book store (proceeds go to the library), Shape Shape and The Stylish Dress books were discounted Amazon purchases, and Pattern Magic 2 about $10 at Half Price Books.

I’m thinking of making this blouse from the Pocchari book. I hope it doesn’t look like a tent on me. I’ll definitely have to make a muslin and do a major SBA. This could be fun in a knit fabric. Nearly all of the book is in Japanese so I have no idea what the recommended fabrics are. The only English text you’ll find is on the front and back covers and on the pages where the garments are photographed. Everything else is in Japanese. Maybe I’ll make a trip to Japantown in San Francisco to see if someone at Kinokuniya bookstore can translate for me.

Japan Sew Along - pocchari top - csews.com

I’m assuming the shoulders will fit. We’ll see…

Japan Sew Along

Have you made anything from a Japanese sewing book? How was the fit?

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Emery Dress with Embellishments

Emery Dress - photo - sewn by Chuleenan of csews.com - Christine Haynes sewing pattern

At last my Emery Dress is finished! I began working on it in October when indie designer Christine Haynes’s Emery Dress sewalong for her lovely sewing pattern. (You can buy the pattern here on her website.) This dress has a fitted bodice with bust and waist darts, two sleeve lengths, and an optional collar and bow. I made a variation of View A with the short sleeves. I didn’t add a bow because it’s not my style but I did add a collar and a few other embellishments, which is why it took me a while to finish.  Also, in between making the Emery Dress, I participated in the Red Velvet Sewalong, which began on November 11, and made my Chevron Red Velvet Dress. It was a dress month!

Emery Dress sewing pattern by Christine HaynesI made my Emery Dress from two 42-inch wide (about 1 meter) cotton remnants that I got on sale (30% off) from Britex Fabrics in San Francisco. One remnant was 1 1/2 yards (1.4 meters) and the other 1 1/8 yards (a little over 1 m). The pink piping at the waist and the lace at the bottom are also from Britex. If you are ever in the Bay Area, you must visit this special store – three floors of fabrics (many of them imported) and one floor of notions. Though many of the fabrics are quite pricey, you can find generous cuts of remnants (2 and even 3-yard pieces) and a wide range of prices on notions.

I wasn’t planning on putting a collar on my dress because I didn’t think I had enough fabric but after I cut out the bodice, which has bust and waist darts, sleeves, and skirt, I discovered that the 2 7/8 yards I had were just enough. However, I didn’t have enough fabric for the bodice lining or pockets so I used a solid black cotton for the bodice lining (also from Britex) and another cotton fabric I had for the pockets. View A (size 10) requires 3 3/4 yards of fabric.

I love the fabric. I don’t know if you can tell from the photos but it is a dark navy printed with stylized silver flowers that have a bubblegum pink center. Those flowers look white here but they are silver with a slight metallic sheen, which is difficult to capture in a photo. (You can click on any of my photos to see a larger version.)

I didn’t want my collar to just blend in with the bodice so I decided to add an embroidered running stitch similar to the collar on my 1940s Girl Friday Blouse, which I made for the Fall for Cotton sewalong this past September (you can see the Girl Friday collar details here). But instead of doing two rows of embroidered stitches, I did just one using a double strand of floss – one strand of metallic silver and one strand of pearly grey, which I got at Lacis in Berkeley. I also bought some pink floss to match the pink in the print but decided against adding another row of stitches because it looked too busy.

Collar detail - Emery Dress sewalong - csews.com

I went to Britex to see if they had any ready-made piping that would go with my fabric. I had a swatch in hand and looked at a pink and silver options. I went with a hot pink that’s closer to magenta. I got the idea of putting piping at the waist when I saw a beautiful 1950s vintage dress with this detail at the Alameda flea market last fall.

Though I haven’t had any experience with piping, I decided to go for it. I found a couple of tutorials on piping on Pinterest but they were about piping on pillows, not clothes. The important thing I learned was to make sure it lined up along the seam line. This would have been a lot easier if the piping width matched my 5/8″ seam allowance. 😉

So I pinned and basted the piping to the bottom of the bodice.

Pinning piping to Emery Dress - csews.com

Then I sewed the gathered skirt to the bodice. The challenging part was getting close enough to the piping using my zipper foot. (There is such a thing as a piping foot but I don’t have one.) I couldn’t see the piping because it was sandwiched between the bodice and skirt so I used my fingers to feel where it was. I had to go back over a couple of spots where you could see the stitching on the piping.

The collar does lay flat but the dress is a little tight at the sleeves. I did make a couple muslins of the bodice but I think I need a little more room on the armscye. It doesn’t cut into my arm so it is comfortable to wear but the sleeve wrinkles a bit if I raise my arms up. :/

Emery Dress - photo - sewn by Chuleenan of csews.com - Christine Haynes sewing pattern

I was really nervous about making the piping line up in the back where the invisible zipper was. After I sewed the piping to the bodice, I checked to make sure it would line up it the center back seam when I put the pieces next to each other – right sides together. Check.

Piping at at center back - Emery Dress - csews.com
Piping at center back seam

Now it was zipper time. After I sewed one side of the zipper (also from Britex), I laid the dress flat, stuck one pin in to attach the top of the unsewn zip side to the bodice. Then I used white chalk to mark on the zipper exactly where the piping should be. You can sort of see it on the right, near the pin. Then I pinned the rest of the zipper, making sure that white mark lined up with the piping.

Marking zipper - Emery Dress - csews.com

And it worked! The piping lines up! Wahoo!

Piping and invisible zipper - Emery Dress - csews.com
Center back seam with invisible zipper

Sewing a 22-inch invisible zipper in the back wasn’t easy because I don’t have an invisible zipper foot so I used a regular zipper foot. I had ordered an invisible zipper foot for my Kenmore sewing machine but it didn’t work very well. The regular zipper foot worked better.

I’d only installed two invisible zippers before this one and those were a lot shorter and thus they were easier to handle. It’s harder to manage sewing a longer invisible zipper using a regular zipper foot. In several places I didn’t get close enough to the teeth so I went back and sewed more stitches to get closer and then hand stitched a few areas as well. Ugh.

Here’s a view of the back – isn’t the collar cute!

Emery Dress - photo - sewn by Chuleenan of csews.com - Christine Haynes sewing pattern

And now to the nitty-gritty details.

Materials

Emery Dress sewing pattern – $18 ($25.30 with shipping and California tax)
2 5/8 yards (42-inch wide) cotton print fabric (just enough for bodice, sleeves, skirt and collar) – $21.69
1 yard black cotton (45-inch wide) for bodice lining – about $10
1 yard bright pink piping $2.70
1 3/8 yard of navy lace $8.16
1 skein of DMC metallic silver embroidery floss [can’t remember price]
1 skein of DMC gray embroidery floss
22-inch invisible zipper
matching thread – Gutterman
70/10 Schmetz needle
fusible cotton woven interfacing  for collar and for invisible zipper area
navy seam tape

My pattern adjustments before cutting my fabric:

Bodice – I did my first small bust adjustment on this dress (you can read about my adjustment here) and a slight wide shoulder adjustment. I cut a size 10 bodice.

Skirt – I added a few inches to the length. My waist (30 inches) is closer to the pattern’s size 10 (29 1/2 inches) but my hips are a size 12 (41 inches) so I cut a size 12 skirt.

Adding length to Emery Dress - csews.com

I wanted it even longer but alas, I didn’t have any more fabric so instead of making a making a hem by folding the fabric over 1/2 inch and the 1 1/2 inches as instructed, I added seam tape. Somewhere in the midst of all this I injured my right middle finger so I couldn’t do any more hand sewing. My finger really hurt after I hand sewed the bottom edge of the bodice lining to the skirt. So no more hand sewing until my finger is healed!

But now I needed to figure out how I would hem the skirt. I posted a photo on Instagram (@csews) and shared it on Twitter (@csewsalot). On Twitter, Leila (@lbreton) of Three Dresses Project suggested that I do a blind hem by machine. She event sent me a link to Lolita Patterns blind hem tutorial (thanks, Leila!). I was going to do this but after I tried on the dress again, I decided to add more length by adding some lace. I really like a long skirt – preferably tea length.

I made a narrow hem, folding over the seam tape, pinning and then sewing the hem (note: seams are finished with a three-part zigzag stitch).

Narrow hem on Emery Dress

Then I went back to the notions floor at Britex to look at lace and got navy cotton lace that’s about 1 3/4 inch wide (4.4 cm), soaked it in very warm water for 30 minutes, air dried it, and machine sewed it to my hem. I used June Tailor’s Fray Block and hand sewed the ends at the side seam.

Navy cotton lace for Emery Dress

And here are some more views of the completed dress – yes, the dress has pockets!

Emery Dress - photo - sewn by Chuleenan of csews.com - Christine Haynes sewing pattern

Photo shoot details: I was waiting for a warm day and I was in luck last Sunday, Dec. 15. It was in the 60s in Berkeley. So I put on some makeup, stuffed my hair under my vintage hat; got dressed in my skirt, black slip, tights, my new patent leather Mary Janes; grabbed my tripod and digital camera and walked about a block to this location. I positioned my tripod and set the timer on my Sony Cybershot at 10 seconds and began shooting. Yep – no photographer. Just me.

Emery Dress - photo - sewn by Chuleenan of csews.com - Christine Haynes sewing pattern

I shot for about an hour, which went by really fast. I should have brought mirror with me to check my collar and other things. By the end some strands of hair were falling down in the back. I guess this is why you have hair and makeup people! I’m gradually getting more comfortable in front of the camera but it’s hard to pose without looking awkward. I’ve edited out many photos with stiff arms and oddly angled legs.

Emery Dress - sewn by Chuleenan of csews.com - Christine Haynes sewing pattern

My hat is one of my favorites in my vintage collection. I use a hat pin to keep it on my head. I got it at All Things Vintage in Oakland. Love that store!

Emery Dress - photo - sewn by Chuleenan of csews.com - Christine Haynes sewing pattern

Emery Dress - photo - sewn by Chuleenan of csews.com - Christine Haynes sewing pattern

It was fun to participate in the sewalong. Christine Haynes provided plenty of tutorials and tips throughout it. I found the small bust adjustment and wide shoulder adjustment very helpful. The instruction booklet that comes with the pattern has very clear step-by-step direction and it’s well illustrated. But I recommend checking out the sewalong posts for extra tips and to see photos of other Emery Dresses.

Do you make many pattern adjustments when you sew a dress? What do you usually do? Do you have any tips for armscye adjustments? 

Who is your photographer when you shoot garments you’ve made for yourself? Is it just your camera timer, a friend, partner or husband?

Thanks for visiting!

Emery Dress - photo - sewn by Chuleenan of csews.com - Christine Haynes sewing pattern

 

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My Chevron Red Velvet Dress

Red Velvet Dress - csews.com

When I went shopping for a knit fabric for the Red Velvet Dress Sewalong, I decided to challenge myself and bought this Ella Moss chevron rayon jersey fabric at Stonemountain and Daughter Fabrics in Berkeley. (You can buy the paper pattern here or get the PDF.) I bought small chevron fabric for the bodice and the bigger chevrons for the skirt. Then I got some solid black for the midriff.

I’ve only sewn knit stripes once so I admit that I was a little intimidated so it took me a while to get going on cutting the fabric. I felt that I needed to do some research and I found a really helpful tutorial “Cutting Striped Knit Fabric & Matching Stripes” on Sewholic‘s site. (Thank you Tasia!)

I’ll have to do a separate post on preparing the fabric for cutting. So for now I’ll just give you an overview of what I did to make this version of the Red Velvet Dress.

I should mention that this is my second Cake Patterns make so I was pretty confident that it would be easy to adjust the pattern. (I’ve made three Hummingbird peplum tops, which you can see here.) The week before this sewalong began I was busy on my Emery Dress so I had no time to make a muslin – yes, I was sewing dangerously! No muslin!!

Sewing chevrons is a little more tricky than stripes, which I really didn’t realize until I made a mistake in cutting the bodice. I was so focused on making sure that the chevron apexes lined up perfectly on the bottom edge and at the center fold that I didn’t pay attention to the sides. Big oops. So I ended up being 3/4″ off to line up the chevrons! Ack.

Red Velvet side seam - csews.com

This was a bit discouraging. On Instagram, Katie of Kadiddlehopper (@kid_md) suggested that I baste and see if it still fit. (On IG my handle is @csews.) Thanks for the encouragement along the way, Katie, and for reminding me that rayon knit is forgiving!

I basted so that my chevrons lined up perfectly in the middle and it still fit. Yay! But what to do about the excess?

Red Velvet Dress side seam

I posted a photo of my sideseam basted and asked what to do – trim and then sew? Susan of Moonthirty and Steph, the talent behind Cake Patterns reassured me that I could just trim off the excess and sew it. You can see the discussion on this Flickr photo. I had MATCHING chevrons! My sideseam was exactly in the middle of the apex. Wahooooo!

I promise to post plenty of photos about it in a later post. Meanwhile here are the details.

Materials

Red Velvet Knit Dress pattern – $20
1/4 yard of solid black rayon jersey – $2.75
2 1/4 yard of large black-and-white chevron rayon – $21.25
3/4 yard of small black-and-white chevron rayon – $6.37
Matching thread (I used black and white)
Schmetz jersey needle
Fusible interfacing (black) $5
Fusible stay tape

I got extra yardage to compensate for mating the chevrons and because I wanted a longer skirt. I rarely wear skirts that end at the knees. I just like a longer length.

My pattern adjustments before cutting my fabric:

Bodice – I lengthened the bodice by about three inches. When I held a measuring tape against my body, the bottom of the bodice seemed to end right in the middle of my bewb. Though I knew the bodice would stretch a bit with the weight of the skirt, I thought it would still be too high. I was surprised that the length of the bodice wasn’t one of the things that you draft to your measurements, like the Hummingbird top. For the Hummingbird pattern, you take your shoulder-to-waist measurement to determine the length of the top above the peplum. Of course you can make adjustments to the Red Velvet bodice yourself, which I did before I cut my fabric. I recommend taking your measurement from the top of your shoulder (going over the middle of your bewb) and then ending about an inch below your bust. This measurement will give you extra length, which you can easily trim later.

Shoulder – I moved the shoulder point 1/4″ out I have broad shoulders and did a 1/2″ shoulder adjustment to my Emery Dress for a woven fabric so I figured with a knit 1/4″ would be OK.

Waist – Moved my waist point on the midriff and skirt to a spot right in the middle of 32.5 and 30

Skirt – Made my skirt tea length – about 33 inches long on me

My adjustments after I cut my fabric:

Construction: Because I had to match my side seams, I sewed the side seams of my bodice, midriff, and the skirt separately instead of sewing the side seam all in one seam. This meant I had to line up the side seams of the midriff to the bodice and then the midriff to the skirt.

Sleeves: My sleeves were a tad short because I had to trim them down to line up. On Instagram, Melanie of The Seeds of 3 suggested that I might want to add a wide binding to the sleeve. So decided to add a band of black to the sleeves. I had done sleeve binding on my Hummingbird tops but here I would have to insert the binding. So I guessed at the length. The sleeve width from the bottom to the shoulder was nearly 6 inches so I cut a binding that was 5 3/4″ folded in half (11 1/2″ total). I didn’t take photos of this and explaining in words is a little hard to follow so I’ll just say that I stretched it as I sewed and it worked! Be sure to check out Melanie’s Red Velvet Dresses – yeah, she’s more more than one! Here’s her most recent version – a lovely polka dot one.

Neckline: I didn’t topstitch around the neckline because I didn’t like how that would look. Instead I did a bit of hand stitching to tack it down. But you can see some of the stitches so I’ve taken some of them out and may just leave some stitches around the shoulder. Steph also suggested that I stitch in the ditch at the shoulder seam.

Pleats: To match the chevrons on the side seams of the skirt, I had to move my seam line in 1/2 on both sides. This meant I had to adjust the front pleat to accommodate – so I didn’t overlap the tucks on the inside. Instead the tucks meet in the middle. (More on this in my upcoming post on matching chevrons.)

The Pattern

The beauty of Cake Patterns is that they are drafted with zero ease, which give you a LOT of room for adjustment. Patterns for knits usually have negative ease because knit fabrics stretch. See Steph’s explanation of why her patterns have zero ease here. If she didn’t have this ease I wouldn’t have been able to match my chevrons – and I would have been really frustrated. But instead, I got to match my chevrons. Yay!

When I make this dress again, I’ll give myself a little more room below the arm.

If you make this dress, be sure to visit the sewlaong pages on Cake Patterns site sewingcake.com. You’ll find more information about constructing the dress and plenty of tips. The instructions that come with the dress are rather minimal so I highly recommend reading the sewalong pages.

I haven’t sewed rayon knit in a couple years so I had some doubts – at one point I was wondering about whether I needed stabilizer to sew the side seams. I posed the question on Twitter (@csewsalot is my handle) and got some answers. Melanie told me she’s used fusible webbing (Steam-a-seam) with great results on striped knits. Katie of Kadiddleshopper suggested using a walking foot and Leila of Three Dresses assured me it would be fine to sew the side seams of my rayon knit without any stay tape and that I should only use it if it the seam was “wavy.” Good advice from all. It turned out that this rayon was easy to sew and was perfectly fine using a regular foot and no stay tape. But I did decrease the pressure on my foot, which I think helped.

Working with this rayon knit has been a dream (now that it’s done!) and a nightmare (took me hours to prepare my fabric for cutting). But my chevrons match so perfectly on the side seams that I’m going around telling everyone at work – “Look, my side seams match!”

Here are more photos – on the side views – my hands are near the side seams. How’s that for matching!

Red Velvet Dress - csews.com

Red Velvet Dress - csews.com

Red Velvet Dress - csews.com

And here’s my celebratory twirl.

Red Velvet Dress - csews.com

And thanks to all the sewcialists who gave me advice as I was making this dress. You helped me get through the sewing process!

What’s on your sewing plate?

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My Small Bust Adjustment on the Emery Dress

Emery Dress - small bust adjustment

Hey, I finally did my first small bust adjustment! Yep, I’ve never done one before, which, when I think about it, is both surprising and then not. Frankly I never gave much thought to doing one because I haven’t made many fitted garments. Or I’ve made things from knit fabrics so the bust wasn’t an issue. Most of the ready-to-wear shirts I have aren’t fitted so I’m used to a bit of looseness.

But looking back, I can think of two things I’ve made that needed a bust adjustment – the Colette Patterns Jasmine blouse. I was swimming in it and ended up taking in a couple of inches on the side seams but it was still a big roomy in the bust, which you can see here. Sheesh. Colette Patterns are made for women with generous bosoms!

The 1950s dress I made for the BurdaStyle Sewing Vintage Modern Contest was a little loose in the bust area too. I did made a couple muslins of the bodice but I was focused on changing the neckline from square to boat neck. I really wasn’t paying much attention to the bust.

But over the past year after seeing sewcialists like Leila of Three Dresses Project mention doing a full bust adjustment on garments she’s made. So doing a small bust adjustment has been percolating in my head for a while.

Then when I got indie designer Christine Haynes’s latest pattern, the lovely Emery Dress, I realized that I had the perfect opportunity to do a small bust adjustment. Her sewalong began towards the end of October and includes many tutorials, including a very helpful one on how to do a small bust adjustment, by Haley on Christine’s blog City Stitching. I followed her step-by-step instructions to make my adjustments. There are plenty of helpful photos as well.

I made Muslin No. 1 for size 10 (37.5″ bust, 29.5″ waist), following the pattern exactly and got this (yes, I only did one sleeve).

Muslin 1 of Emery Dress bodice

The fit wasn’t bad but you can see that it’s a little loose in the bust. I could pinch about 1/2″.

Emery dress bodice - small bust adjustment

In this side view you can see how it’s a bit roomy there, especially above the bust dart.

Small bust adjustment - Emery Dress

So I made the adjustments following the SBA tutorial on Christine Haynes blog.

Small bust adjustment - Emery Dress

It got a little fiddly on the bust dart – folding it and then trimming it so I wasn’t sure if I did it right. So on to Muslin 2 with the SBA – a much better fit!

Small bust adjustment - Emery Dress

Here’s the side view of my SBA muslin. Hey, no wrinkle!

Small bust adjustment - Emery Dress

Yippee! My first small bust adjustment worked! The only thing is that the front waist darts seemed a bit long. So I drew another line on the pattern piece as you can see in this photo, to put the apex of the waist dart about 3/4″ lower. Anyway I’m really happy it worked and I’m sure I’ll be doing more SBAs. So thanks Christine for putting the tutorial on your blog!

Small bust adjustment - Emery Dress - csews.com

Have you done any bust adjustments?  How did it go?

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