How’s your summer sewing going? I hope you’re making progress on your projects whatever they may be. I started my third By Hand London Anna Dress earlier this month – inspired by the Instagram International Anna Party invitation from Elle of @LauraLovesPugs, who’s paryting with Ute of @uta_ig and Pips of @magdalenamuse and invited everyone to join them in a celebration of this dress by post their dresses on Instagram on on July 17 and 18. You could make a new one or post a previously made version. Use the hashtag #internationalannaparty to see the wide array of Annas.
Cheers to Elle, Ute and Pips for hosting the party! Here’s my finished dress. I’m really happy with this color-blocked version. The fabric is from Stonemountain & Daughter Fabrics in Berkeley. The bodice is Radiance by Robert Kauffman (a shiny cotton/silk sateen but I put the matte or “wrong” side facing out) and the skirt is an Alexander Henry cotton lawn.
I think this pattern has been so popular because it works well with so any fabrics – prints of all kinds, solid colors, cottons and silks. But if you do use a print with a larger scale graphic, pay attention to the repeat when you place your skirt pattern pieces. If I had paid closer attention, I would have made sure that the larger “flower” images didn’t line up anywhere. On two of the front panels, one of the lighter flowers lines up near the waist, which happened by accident.
My second Anna Dress was also color blocked – the bodice was solid red and the skirt was solid red and a print. You can see it on this post: My Red Anna Dress. For my first Anna Dress, I used a geometric border print. I made it for Sewing Indie Month in 2014. You can see that version on this post: The Anna Dress. And you’ll find photos of my fitting adjustments in that post – an SBA (small bust adjustment). For this violet version, I made one small adjustment to th back neckline, which gaped slightly in my earlier versions.
This is a very figure-flattering pattern. It makes me look more slender than I really am. 😉 And what’s also nice is that it has plenty of ease in the hips. I didn’t have to grade a size up like I usually do.
One thing I forgot when I was cutting this out is that I needed to cut the side front skirt panels slightly smaller. When I made my 1/2 SBA, that affected the bodice waist. So I just eased the skirt to the bodice to make it fit.
I’m drinking lemonade because I took these photos in the morning. Heheh.
Thanks so much for the party! Happy sewing to all!
What are you working on? Projects for summer and fall? Now that summer solstice has come and gone, I feel pressure to get going on the summer clothes. One good thing about living in California is that it stays warm through September, even in the Bay Area, where the weather is a lot cooler than Southern California – so I’ll be OK even if I don’t finish my summer sewing projects by the end of August.
I’ve just finished making another Deer and Doe Chardon skirt – this time out of some heavyweight linen fabric. Here’s a sneak peek of the main skirt fabric, which I got at Britex Fabrics and my side pocket:
Hopefully, I’ll be able to take photos of it in the couple of days so you can see the finished version with the red linen contrast band. This is my fourth Chardon skirt. (Here are the links to my first Chardon, my second one with a black contrast band, and my maxi version.)
I already got some black seersucker fabric. It’s a perfect project for the Sundress Sewalong, hosted by Handmade by Heather B! It starts on July 1 and continues to August 31 – plenty of time to finish it! Thanks, Heather!
The other dress is one I thought I would make for the Japan Sew Along (hosted by Tanoshii) but I was only able to complete one garment, the A-line Block Skirt (from Basic Black) by the end of the sewalong. This is the pattern…
… and here’s the pretty purple cotton voile fabric I got for the dress:
Oh, and let’s not forget tops! I cut out my mock-up of the Asymmetical Top from Drape Drape 2, which I’ve been meaning to make ever since I saw a couple of MaciNic’s versions on her blog The Somnolent Dachshund. I cut a straight size L/XL. I’m using a drapey rayon knit so we’ll see how well it fits. My guess is that it will be tight in the hips. The top was a bit of a pain to cut out because it is one huge pattern piece. So I had to lay it out on the floor. It’s waiting to be sewed.
And way back in December I cut out a mock-up of the Renfrew top, Sewaholic’s best-selling and versatile knit top. It got pushed to the bottom of the project queue when I started making my Chardon skirts, Japanese sewing patterns, and my Spring for Cotton dress. I need to sew this up as well.
I also bought my first Blueprints for Sewing pattern – the A-frame skirt, which looks like a great stashbuster. Just think of the color blocking possibilities!
The drawing is unique – rather rustic but don’t be put off by it, the design is rather elegant with two options – an A-line and a pencil skirt. And the pocket detail is quite lovely. You can see more versions of it on Blueprint’s blog.
Another pattern I got earlier this month is the Flutter Blouse by Papercut Patterns. I like the floaty sleeves. You could make it tunic length and wear it as a dress (check out SewBusyLizzy’s version here). I don’t know if I would make it tunic length – like SewBusyLizzy I worry about it looking like a sack. My hips are rather wide so I don’t think that will be flattering on my figure. It will be fine as a blouse though.
I love the packaging on Papercut Patterns!
There are other indie patterns on my to-do list as well – Deer & Doe’s Bruyère Shirt, maybe another By Hand London Anna Dress for the International Anna Party (I’ve made two so far – one with a border print and a color blocked version), and Sewaholic’s Granville Shirt. What’s on your sewing list?
I made a red Anna Dress! This is the second project I made as part of my summer stashbusting mission. Yep – I’m participating in Summer Stashbust 2014. My first project was The Trench. I seem to be making stuff from fabric I’ve had for a couple of years. Well, that’s not exactly true. I bought the solid red fabric – Robert Kauffman Radiance, a cotton-silk sateen, from Stonemountain & Daughter Fabrics in Berkeley last month. So it’s really not a stashbust fabric but it has a very nice hand that went well with my fabric. This cotton-silk blend is super shiny on one side and more of a matte finish but with a slight sheen on the other side, which went well with my print. I used the more matte side as the “right” side of my fabric.
[Confession: The stashbust challenge goes from June 21 to Sept. 21. But I wasn’t paying attention to the cutoff date and I bought this solid red fabric a day after the challenge started. Ooops!]
I’ve had this print – large sort of ying/yang randomly placed circles of two shades of red on an off-white background for about three or four years. It’s a cotton lycra blend. I think I bought it because I liked the colors but I didn’t consider just how big those circles were and how overwhelming they’d be on a skirt. So it just languished in my stash. And when the stashbust challenge came up I looked at it again and realized it could work if I broke it up with a solid red fabric. The print wouldn’t be as overwhelming.
So I decided to make a color blocked Anna Dress, the oh-so-popular By Hand London pattern, with a solid red bodice and then alternating skirt panels. But I had to think about how that would work because there are three skirt panels in the front and four in the back.
I thought I could alternate the panels: print/solid/print/solid. But you can’t alternate all the panels when you have an odd number of panels. Two panels will need to be the same fabric. I made this sketch to figure it out.
For the front, I decided the center and would be solid red and the two side panels the circle print. For the back I would put the solid red on the sides and use the print for the two center panels. The letters on my sketch refer to the Anna pattern pieces.
I cut out my pattern pieces almost exactly as I had for my first Anna Dress, which I made for Sewing Indie Month, except that I added about an inch of length to the sleeves.
After I pressed the pleats/darts in the bodice, spraying a little water here and there, I saw that wet spots really showed up, which meant it wouldn’t look so great on a hot summer day. So after I posted a blurry photo on Instagram (@csews) and asked folks for advice (line or not?), I decided I did need a lining. If I had thought about this earlier, I would have underlined and just sewed the pleats/darts into both pieces of fabric together. That’s what Heather of Handmade by Heather B did when she made her Tiki Goddess Anna Dress. I confess that I never really gave much thought to underlining until I read Seamstress Erin PhD’s post When to Underline Your Sewing. I’ve lined dresses and skirts but I haven’t underlined anything.
Because I already put the pleats/darts in the bodice, I couldn’t underline. So I cut another bodice but I didn’t add length to sleeves. Then I sewed the pleats/darts, and attached the two bodice pieces at the neckline. I put the shiny side of the fabric on the inside – it’s oh so soft and luxurious. But I sewed the side seams together like an underlining as you can see in the back view here. I did the same thing when I attached the skirt to the bodice as you can see here. I didn’t feel like hand stitching a lining to the waist. 😉
I hemmed the sleeves by folding the ends twice and hand stitching it to the lining, which was cut the same length as the pattern pieces. Here’s a view of the inside of the bodice. Check out that sleeve hem!
For this version I sewed french seams for the skirt panel pieces.
I tried to careful in sewing and pressing my french seams, hoping that my bodice seams would line up but they were slightly off in two spots so when I pinned I eased them as much as I could to line them up.
And here are more photos of the dress. I took a lot of photos so you can see the color blocking. I’m wearing my white straw hat, which I got at a consignment shop in Oakland a few years ago. I don’t wear it very much so it was fun to take it out of the hat box for this photo shoot.
Note on photography: Exposure and focus are tricky when you’re using a timer on a digital camera. I focused on the ivy and then had to experiment with my exposure settings to get the colors of the fabric to look right. The ivy is more in focus than I am. If you have any tips on timer photography, let me know.
I also took photos wearing my vintage black straw and velvet hat so you can see my Peterham ribbon flower, which I made a while ago (oh the hand pleating!). As you can see this shade of red is one of my faves. I took these photos last Sunday. My hair isn’t this long any more though. I got about six inches lopped off yesterday. No more pony tail!
I had problems installing the invisible zipper. For some reason my machine got stuck after I sewed a couple of inches down the zipper. So I ended up hand sewing the zipper in place, which kinda sucked because it’s a long zipper. It took me an evening in front of the television to finish sewing it. And my waist seam ended up being a tiny bit off in the back – about 1/16 of an inch. I wasn’t about to unpick all my hand stitches though. It’s in the back so I can live with it.
Have you made any color blocked clothes? What did you make and what fabrics did you use?
BTW – If you’re a member of Bay Area Sewists and are coming to our fabric swap this Saturday, July 26, you can get about 1 1/4 yards of my red circle print fabric. I’m bringing it to the meetup. 🙂
For many months I had a little over two yards of this gorgeous border print, which I bought from Britex Fabrics as a remnant (yes, they have generously cut remnants!). It’s a cotton with lycra fabric from Italy, 60 inches wide, with the print getting larger at the selvages, with the bigger squarish elements about 6 inches in width. The smaller black and grey squares in the middle are each about 1.5 inches wide. I really loved it but I didn’t know what I would make from it – maybe a skirt, I thought. But I had never made anything with a border print fabric. How would I cut the fabric? I was a bit stymied so I prewashed the fabric and put it away.
Every few months I would take it out and look at it but I still didn’t know what pattern would work with it. I pondered a bias cut skirt but then realized that wouldn’t make full use of the border print. Then I considered making some sort of pleated skirt but pleats have never looked that great on me because of my hips.
Then started going through my stash hoping I could find something that would work with one of the patterns. I posted this photo on Instagram and Brooke of Custom Style pointed that it might be tricky to make the print even on the neckline of the Beatrice Dress. Good point.
Then I thought – “Oh, what about the Anna Dress?” And posted this photo on IG and got a lot of positive feedback. But I didn’t have enough fabric so I went back to Britex and got two more yards at full price.
But first I wanted to make the Beatrice Dress but after I realized it was going to take me too long to get it done by the Sewing Indie Month deadline, I decided to go with Anna. You can read more about how and why that happened in this post (plenty of photos of the dress there too).
Once I picked Anna, everything came together. As I was laying out the bodice, I thought about the article on border prints in the April/May 2014 issue of Threads magazine, which I had flipped through at the Berkeley Public Library one afternoon. It made me think about using the border print as an additional design element. I held the fabric against me, posted the image on Instagram and Twitter. Leila of Three Dresses happened to see the tweet and liked that idea. I love sewcialists! They are so helpful and supportive. 😉
With that in mind, I placed the bodice pieces with the grain so that design of the print went from large to small from the left to right sleeve on the front and back. I also paid attention to where the print transitioned from large to small. I knew I wanted the area where the print transitioned to the smaller black squares to start off center rather than dead center of the bodice.
The print is asymmetrical (and busy) so I wanted to cut the fabric so that the print’s design on the individual pattern pieces would not line up. Here’s a shot of the front bodice with the front pleats sewn and facing attached.
In the photo below, the space to the left of the pattern piece is where I cut the back left side of the bodice. The pattern piece for the other side is placed an inch higher. I wanted it to be off by a significant amount so that it would look deliberate rather than like I was trying to match the design and failed. This pattern has a 22-inch invisible zipper in the center back.
Here’s a close up of the back bodice – see where the invisible zipper will go?
For the skirt I decided that I would lay out the pattern pieces so that the border print would be the largest at the hem. The meant cutting the fabric against the grain – perpendicular to the selvage.
There are seven skirt panels – the front skirt has three pieces, the center skirt piece, which is cut on the fold and two panels on either side of the center panel. I put the center skirt panel at the highest position on the border where the squares were the smallest. At that position there was about three inches left of the large part of the border print below that piece. So I planned on cutting the side pieces an inch lower than the center panel and then the two center back pieces an inch lower than the side panels. I thought it might look like the border was moving down the skirt but the print is so busy I don’t think it did that. But it did serve my purpose of not matching the print at any seams.
This is a photo of one of the other panels, with largest part of the border print at the bottom. I folded the skirt up to the hem length I wanted – tea length instead of maxi.
And here’s what the finished version looks like from the front …
and the back!
If you like this dress, you can vote for it today on Lilacs & Lace! I entered it in the Sewing Indie Month Dressed to the Nine Sew-along contest. Voting ends today.
Have you made anything with a border print before? What did you make and did you play around with the border print’s placement?
I’m thrilled to announce that my Anna Dress made the short list for the Dressed to the Nines contest! I made this dress as a participant of Sewing Indie Month, which was created and organized by Mari of Seamster Patterns.
The Dressed to the Nine category is hosted by Laura Mae of the lovely blog Lilacs & Lace. She makes so many beautiful things and documents them so nicely on her blog. You can vote for your favorite entry on her blog here. (Hint: My dress is the last one listed on this page. It’s the same name as my blog post “The Anna Dress – Celebrating Sewing Indie Month!“)
If you want to read about some of the nitty gritty construction details and my small bust adjustment, check out my post on the Anna Dress. It was hot in the Bay Area on Monday so I wore my Anna Dress to work! And I stopped by Britex Fabrics during my lunch break to show off the dress to the folks who work there. I only work a few block from the store so they’ve seen me come and go quite often some months, picking up a zipper here, some thread there or scoping our some of the luscious fabrics on the first floor or the huge array of cottons on the second floor – not to mention sifting through remnants on the fourth floor.
They really liked my dress and their marketing maven Geana even took a couple of photos of the dress and put them in a blog post entitled Sewing Indie Month: Voting Time! It’s been a great experience working in this dress and getting such a great response! Thanks to everyone for all the kind words!
NOTE: I thought I had updated my initial Anna post on Monday but apparently I never hit update so the voting info wasn’t in that post (darn it!). So my apologies to folks who visited and didn’t know where to vote. Once again, please go to Lilacs & Lace post “Vote for the Winner of the Dressed to the Nines Sew-along.”
Wooooheeee! I finished the Anna Dress late last night – or should I say early this morning? Yes, it really was down to the wire. This is my entry for Dressed to the Nines. My husband thought I was a crazy person because I was still sewing at 3 am. I told him, I’m trying to finish this dress for Sewing Indie Month!
I never stay up that late on a work night but I made an exception because I really wanted to complete something to celebrate Sewing Indie Month. Mari of Seamster Patterns did such an amazing job creating and organizing this month-long online sewing party, I just had to buckle down and get it done – though it took me a while to get there!
****UPDATE! My dress made the short list for the Dressed to the Nines category of Sewing Indie Month! You can vote here for my dress at Lilacs & Lace blog, until Friday, June 13.
I completely forgot about mentioning the fact that Laura Mae of great blog Lilacs & Lace is hosting the Dressed to the Nines category of Sewing Indie Month. (Forgive me but I’ve been a bit sleep deprived from making this dress!) She has great tutorials and a lot more on her blog, which features sewn and knitted vintage and vintage-inspired garments.
I initially wanted to make the lovely Beatrice Dress by Sew Chic Patterns. In early May I visited all the websites of the participating designers and bought this pattern and the Anna Dress from By Hand London. The Beatrice Dress paper pattern arrived the week of May 5. Fast delivery!
I love the pockets on it and the beautiful neckline. After I traced the pattern and made a muslin of the bodice, I knew I would need to do a small bust adjustment.
However, I couldn’t quite figure out how to do it because the bodice only has a waist dart, no side dart. I placed the Beatrice front bodice piece next to my Emery Dress pattern bodice piece and could see that I needed to come in a little bit but how to do that?
I’ve only done an SBA on a bodice with a side bust dart and a waist dart (the Emery Dress sewing pattern by Christine Hayes, also a Sewing Indie designer participant! You can see my Emery Dress here.) I followed the SBA instructions provided with the Emery Dress sewalong.
I posted photos on my Instagram account (@csews) and got advice from many helpful folks along the way. Brooke of Custom Style suggested that I add a side dart by cutting and rotating dart manipulation to reduce the spread of the vertical one. And Maddie of Madalynne told me to redraw dart legs to it points to bust point and ends about a 1/2 inch before it.
In the meantime I also emailed Sew Chic Patterns – and then I tried what Brooke suggested. But I didn’t really know what I was doing.
And it still didn’t fit right. Then lo and behold, Laura of Sew Chic replied to my email over the weekend! How’s that for customer service? She told me I did not need a line to the side, all I needed to do was to cut through the dart to the apex and then from the apex to the shoulder seam and overlap closing the dart – and true the shoulder. And she even sent me a PDF with additional info. Oh, yay. So simple. So I did it.
And it worked! Bagginess gone and it was so easy to do! Thank you Laura!
It took me three muslins to get to this point, meanwhile, it was the last week of May – and I hadn’t done any fitting of the skirt part of this fitted pattern. I also did a wide shoulder adjustment to the bodice. I have pretty broad shoulders. This means that the ease in Big Four patterns is perfect for my shoulders. Heheh. I used to wonder, what are folks talking about the ease being super huge on Big Four patterns? I haven’t had to adjust shoulders or arms on Big Four patterns. 😉
Next I attached the sleeves only to discover that the sleeve felt a little tight in the fleshy area between the bewb (spelling courtesy of Leila of Three Dresses) and the arm. Oh, dear – more pattern adjustments? Um, yeah, plus I haven’t been to the gym in five months so that area is fleshier than usual. (sigh)
Once again I asked for advice on IG and emailed Laura at Sew Chic again. I got advice from all but then decided I didn’t have enough time to do a good job. Time was running out so I had to switch gears and decided to go to the Anna Dress, which I thought I had a shot at completing because it wasn’t as fitted as Beatrice. Anna has just four waist pleats in front, not darts, and two back darts at the waist. So I got started on Anna and discovered that the pleats went up too high, darn it!
Then I lowered the pleats about an inch and discovered that I needed to do an SBA – oh, noooooooo!!!
It doesn’t look too bad in this photo but when I glanced at my profile from the side, uh, the bust area looked like a balloon with half the air taken out. Not. Good.
On to muslin no. 3! I took the SBA tip from Sew Chic’s Laura and applied it to the Anna bodice – slicing from the middle of the first two pleats to the apex of my bewb (you can kind of see the pink highlighter in that spot) and then from the apex all the way to the center of the shoulder seam line. I moved the pattern over 1/2 inch. I didn’t redraw the pleats because I didn’t know how/where I would do that and whether that would affect the matching of the front seams. The middle pleat seam lined up with one of the skirt seams. So I just left it where it was and crossed my fingers, hoping that I could ease my way into matching those seam lines.
And it fit sooooo much better! Yay!
I used a bed sheet from Goodwill to make that muslin. And now I was ready to cut my fashion fabric.
I got this unusual directional print at Britex Fabrics remnant sale a couple of years ago. It’s cotton with a touch of lycra and imported from Italy. The lighting isn’t so great on the photo but it’s 58 inches wide and the print goes from large size “squares” at the selvedges to small in the middle. The rectangular shapes are either black or charcoal grey and the lighter color squares in the middle are sort of beige.
I only had a little over two yards so I thought of alternating the skirt panels with charcoal grey or something. So I went back to Britex (lucky me, I work within walking distance so I could drop by during lunch) and looked at some lightweight cotton solids but nothing was in the right shade of grey. The saleslady suggested we look at prints but nothing worked well with this busy print. Then she told me that they still had that fabric in stock.
“Really?” I asked. Well, getting more fabric seemed to be the best option. So I paid full price for two more yards (ahem – $39.95/yard ). I don’t usually spend that much on a single piece of fabric but I had a good feeling about it.
I decided to make Variation 2 with the V-neck,which seemed like a better fit with this directional print. And I decided to create my own length. I didn’t want a floor-length Anna because when I wear maxi skirts I tend to trip on the hem going up stairs. So I wanted more of a tea length – somewhere in between the knees and the ankles. A nontrippable length.
I just added 10 inches to the midi-length line on the skirt pattern pieces and drew a line there, which I called “CS length.” I traced out the maxi length in case I should change my mind and I just folded up the pattern at my CS length line and cut my skirt pieces out. I decided to lay my pieces out so that the smaller part of the print starts at the waist and then gets bigger at the bottom. This meant that I was placing my pattern pieces perpendicular to the grainline instead of parallel like you typically do.
The tricky part was deciding which way the print would go on the bodice pieces. The print is really large – about four inches wide, which I thought wouldn’t be too flattering across the shoulders. So I decided to go from large to small from my right side to the left. I also made sure that the pattern began shifting to the smallest squares past the center of the bodice. I’ve got the pattern piece here face down. This was so I could see where the right half would begin and end. The front bodice piece is cut on the fold so I wanted to choose exactly where that center fold would land. The bodice pieces were laid out on grain.
Then I began to sew the front pleats, which you iron on the wrong side so that the pleats are centered over the seam. To make it easier to do that I inserted a chopstick in pleat, which helped me center the fabric over the seam and then I ironed the pleats.
For the back pieces, I had the larger part of the print on the same side as the front. I cut the two back bodice pieces separately. Below I’ve cut the left back side of the bodice and I’m placing the pattern piece for the right back side. I deliberately did not line up the right side. I moved the pattern piece about an inch higher than the bottom of the left bodice piece. Before I cut my fabric I had already decided that I wasn’t going to match anything at the seam lines on this fabric – not without driving myself completely bonkers anyway – so I wanted to be way off as opposed to slightly off, which would have made it look like I tried (and failed) to match the print.
And here’s what the completed back looks like at the waist – check out those matching seam lines! The center seam is my installed invisible zipper – everything lined up. Yay!
And here’s the front – the two center pleats line up with the seam lines of the center skirt panel. I was a bit concerned that the SBA would affect the pleat placement. But when I pinned the bodice to the waist, I was able to ease the skirt so that the pleats lined up with center seam line. (Whew!)
And here are a few more view of the Anna Dress!
And here are some more photos of the dress, which I really love. This is a very lightweight and drapey fabric. And it was really breezy today so in most of my photos the skirt is drifting in the breeze.
Oh, and a note on accessories. I’m wearing a vintage hat, which I got at a great boutique in Oakland called All Things Vintage. Nearly every time I got there I get a new hat! This one is made out of straw and velvet. The underside of the brim is black velvet as well as the hat band. I’m also wearing a vintage bracelet – it’s striped (black and ivory) and Bandolino pumps I got at DSW several weeks ago.
This photo was taken when the wind died down for two seconds. I think it’s one of the few photos where the skirt isn’t blowing against my legs. You can really see the drape of the fabric here.
The photos were all taken with my digital camera on a timer. Hey, I accidentally discovered the multiple shot feature in my camera earlier this year and now I use that along with the timer. So much easier!
Thank you for visiting! And don’t forget to visit Lilacs & Lace on Monday to vote for your favorite outfit in the Dressed to the Nines sewalong contest! You have until June 13 to cast your vote!