Me Made May 2014: Days 2-12

9 days of Me Made May 2014 - csews.com

On the first of May I committed to five days a week of wearing something I sewed for Me Made May 2014. (If you haven’t heard about MMM14, read about on So Zo’s blog.) On Day 1 I wore a skirt I made a few years ago. All the photos were taken with my iPhone – so apologies for low-quality photos. I posted most of these photos on my Instagram account (@csews).

Here’s a rundown what I wore for the next several days, starting with this red dress on Day 2. I wore this number to a magazine awards event in Los Angeles. (The magazine I work for was nominated for several awards and we won four! I and three other staff members flew down for the event.) The evening began with cocktails so that’s why I’m holding a glass of red wine here.

Me Made May 2014 - red dress - vintage pattern - csews.com

I wore my vintage hat (black velvet and white woven fabric), which I got at All Things Vintage in Oakland, along with my new shoes – black with white trim! (Yes, they a bit too pointy for my feet but I figured they would be OK for a few hours. I needed something with a vintage look to go with the outfit. I found these low-heeled Bandolino pumps at DSW in San Francisco.) I made the dress a few years ago from this 1957 McCalls pattern. The fabric is a cotton woven, quilt weight, red with tiny white polka dots. This dress has a side zipper and I made the belt using the same fabric.

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Back then I didn’t really know what I was doing as I graded up in the shoulders and hip area. I didn’t now anything about tracing patterns and just cut the actual pattern [wince] and didn’t make a muslin [gasp]. Yep – this was the muslin. In fact I had never made a muslin of anything back then. Heheh. #ignoranceisbliss

From what I recall, my neckline adjustments were slightly off so I had to make some pretty small seam allowances to make it work. Plus it took me f-o-r-e-v-e-r to figure out how to interpret the instructions for that middle pleated detail in the center of the bodice. Even now I stare at it and I don’t remember how I did it! I was slimmer when I made this dress so at the moment there’s not a whole lot of ease in the hip area. 😉 There is plenty of room to walk because of a pleat in the skirt back. It’s not uncomfortable but a little more ease would be better. I need to get back to the gym!

On Day 3 I wore this cotton voile skirt I made last year. On the last day of my LA trip I had the pleasure of meeting Kathy (@nerdyseamstress on Twitter and @thenerdyseamstress on Instagram) who blogs at The Nerdy Seamstress. We follow each other on social media and arranged to meet at Republique, a great place for brunch, and then went to The Fabric Store to do a little shopping. We each wore skirts we made that day. (You can read about my skirt here.)

Kathy of the Nerdy Seamstress and Chuleenan wearing Me Made May skirts

On Day 4 I wore my Hummingbird peplum, a Cake Patterns top, which I made last year. (You can read about it here.)

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On Day 5 I wore this hat, which I made from some home dec fabric I got on sale at Joann’s and trimmed with Petersham ribbon from Britex Fabrics in San Francisco. (Yes, this is a selfie, thus my shoulder looks odd – a little Quasimodo, eh?)

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On Day 6 I wore this bias cut skirt. The fabric is from Discount Fabrics in San Francisco.

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Day 7 – The Trench, pattern from Christine Haynes first book Chic and Simple Sewing, which I blogged about here. This one is from a handwoven cotton – very thick, like home dec – and trimmed with bias tape I made from striped silk fabric. I also added a cuff detail in the same striped fabric.

I’ve been a long-time fan of Christine’s and even interviewed her when she released her first of her patterns in 2012. You can read that Q&A here.

The Trench- Christine Haynes pattern

Day 8, my other Trench – this one in wool, trimmed with a bias tape made from tiny hounds-tooth wool fabric. You can read about that Trench here.

The Trench - Christine Haynes pattern - csews.com

Day 9, my hand-sewn bolero from black jersey, pattern from Alabama Studio Sewing + Design book by Natalie Chanin. Sorry you can’t see much detail in this badly lit photo. For some reason I never got around to blogging about this bolero.

Bolero - Alabama Studio Sewing + Design  - csews.com

Days 10 and 11, I didn’t wear anything I made and Day 12 I wore my Emery Dress – one of my more feminine dresses (lace trim, embroidery on the collar). This is also a Christine Haynes pattern. You can read about my experience making this dress (and see better photos!) here. The fabric is cotton voile is a remnant I got from Britex Fabrics. I also got this cute hat on sale at All Things Vintage. I love the hats at this shop run by two ladies with excellent taste. Nearly every time I go there I buy another hat!

Emery Dress - Me Made May 2014 - Day 12 - csews.com

Thanks for visiting! And if you’re participating in Me Made May and have worn anything by the designers mentioned above, please let me know. I’d love to see what you made!

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Bay Area Sewists Meetup No. 3!

Bay Area Sewists - April Meetup

On April 19 Bay Area Sewists met at Lacis‘s classroom space in Berkeley for Meetup No. 3 this year! Not everyone who came is in the photo because I forgot to take the photo while everyone was still there.

Our topic was  Show & Tell, WIPs, Tour Lacis & Pattern Giveaway! I thought it would be a nice to talk about embellishing clothes because we were meeting at Lacis, where you can buy lace, ribbons, embroidery thread, and other notions.

We had a lot of fun seeing what everyone made. I took some photos – unfortunately, I didn’t capture everything because I was so busy looking at what folks made – but you can see a few of the things below.

Erin's purse - Bay Area Sewists - csews.com

Lindsay (@lindsaymarsh) (left) of Baking Making and Crafting is looking at an embellished and embroidered purse made by Erin (sitting next to Lindsay).  Veronica (right) is looking at a Christmas tree skirt made by Lynda (not pictured).

Erin's embellished purse - Bay Area Sewists meetup - csews.com

Pretty amazing details on Erin’s purse, eh? Erin’s philosophy is that if it doesn’t look right, just add more! She also brought a pirate jacket, which had all kinds of things going on – braid, ribbons, a tassel.

Beth of SunnyGal Studio - Vogue dress

Beth of SunnyGal Studio talked about the Vogue dress (8904) she is wearing and a black jacket (on table) that she embellished with fringe. You can read her post about this fun striped knit dress here. She said the dress was easy to make – you attach the panels to another piece of fabric. To her left is Lisa (@jlellis) who brought her Grainline Moss skirt, which she recently finished. She really liked the pattern and said it was easy to make. Lisa did a nice job on the top stitching. Oh, and I should mention that she’s wearing a knit dress she made from the Red Velvet Dress pattern by Cake Patterns.

Beth's Vogue jacket

The black jacket is from Vogue pattern 7975. The pattern didn’t look very exciting but the addition of fringe gave it a very nice touch. Beth added fringe to the edged and to the pockets. She used the jacket fabric to make the fringe.

fringe sample by Beth of SunnyGal Studio - csews.com

Here’s my out-of-focus photo of the jacket and the sample fringe, which Beth brought to the meeting. You sew the fringe fabric to a piece of silk organza. All of her fringe was along a straight edge but if you are going to put fringe along a curve, check out this post on bias fringe on the blog Communing with Fabric.

Renfrew cardigan - Bay Area Sewists meetup - csews.com

Here’s Lisa showing off the cardigan she made using Sewaholic’s Renfrew pattern. If you’re not familiar with it, the Renfrew is for a knit top with three different necklines to choose from, it’s not a cardigan pattern. So this is Lisa’s clever pattern hack. I have this pattern so I’ll definitely try making a cardigan once I get some tops done!

Allison  - Bay Area Sewists meetup

Allison (@allisoncole85) of i like candy talks about the things she made from the fabric she got at our fabric swap in March, including the top she’s wearing and a couple of the things in front of her. The embroidered and beaded fabric in front of her is a skirt that Veronica made. She’s often sitting around waiting for her kids at a practice or events so she spends her time doing some hand sewing like embroidery and beading. Her embroidery was very detailed and precise.

Pattern drawing - Bay Area Sewists

At the end of our discussion we held a drawing for Bluegingerdoll’s latest pattern, the Winifred Dress – and Lynda won the pattern! This indie pattern company, which launched just two years ago, is based in Australia. Lynda was excited to win because the pattern is drafted for larger busts. You can buy the pattern in paper or as a PDF download.

There are plenty of tutorials on the Winifred sewalong posts that were created for this pattern. The talented Heather (@knitnbee) of Handmade by Heather B, wrote up the various adjustments you can make, including one on full and small bust adjustments. I am in the middle of making my Winifred Dress and used the small bust adjustment instructions. [Full disclosure: Abby send me a copy of the pattern for me to try out.] Thank you Abby, Bluegingerdoll’s designer, for donating the pattern for our meetup!

After the pattern drawing some members continued to chat and others went on a tour of the smocking exhibit currently on display at Lacis and to check out the store. The smocking exhibit will be on display until October 4. There are docent tours on Saturdays – and if you go on a tour you can see the actual pink smocked dress Anne Hathaway wore in Les Miserables. It’s in a special room, separate from the rest of the exhibit. Only a few people at a time are allowed in to see the special items there. You can see a photo of it on this Jane Austen blog post Smocking: A Stitch in Time. But you can see it in person at Lacis! All I can say is that Anne Hathaway is very slender – such narrow shoulders!

Our next meetup will be a pattern swap and a discussion of indie patterns on Saturday, May 17, 10:45 am. If you’re in the area, I hope you can join us! I hope to finally meet Melizza (@Pincushiontreat) of Pincushion Treats. Our May pattern drawing will be for Lolita Patterns latest release. Thank you Amity for donating your pattern!

On another note, our June 7 meetup at Lacis will be on fitting. If you have any suggestions about how we should use our time, please let me know. We’ll have the space for four hours. Some folks will be bringing their sewing machines. I figure we could have an area where people can get accurate measurements, maybe an FBA/SBA area, or something like that.

People will bring their muslins, etc. and we’ll all muddle along. If Loran of Loran’s World comes (if she’s not too jet lagged after her trip to Australia!), she can really help folks. She’s had plenty of fitting experience. My experience is limited to SBAs, wide shoulder adjustments, and a little waist tweaking.

I’m excited about this meetup because I’ll finally get to meet Angela (@bonnechanceblog) of Bonne Chance! She just moved up to the Bay Area from Los Angeles. She had wanted to come to our meetup this month but had to go apartment hunting instead.

Anyway, feel free to offer any tips about holding a fitting session! Thanks for visiting!
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2013 – A Year of Sewing Firsts

Thanks to Gillian of Crafting a Rainbow for spurring me and many others to look back at this past year. One thing I realized is that 2013 was a year of sewing firsts for me. So here’s a brief rundown of the “firsts” in chronological order.

I entered my first sewing contest in February – the BurdaStyle Sewing Vintage Modern contest. You had to make something from the book BurdaStyle Sewing Vintage Modern and post photos to your BurdaStyle profile. I made the Elizabeth Gathered-Waist Dress and a crinoline with the following adjustments: changed the neckline from square neck to boat neck, lined the bodice (first tine I lined a bodice!), added bra strap holders at shoulders. I posted about making the dress but never actually posted this photo on my blog. So here it is.

To my great surprise I was selected as one of 20 finalists. I didn’t win but it was exciting to be a finalist. (You can see more photos on my BurdaStyle Project page here.)

I participated in my first sewalong last June – making the Hummingbird peplum top by Cake Patterns and sewing by first neck and sleeve binding using knit fabric (link to pattern here). I liked the pattern so much I made three tops: solid blue, solid red, and my favorite, black-and-white striped version with binding cut on the bias.

Striped h-bird - standing

It was so much fun participating in the Hummingbird sewalong, I joined in the Fall for Cotton Sewalong hosted by Rochelle of Lucky Lucille and Tasha of By Gum By Golly, and made my first Decades of Style pattern, the 1940s Girl Friday Blouse, a bit of a challenge with three collars and a side invisible zipper.

1940s Girl Friday blouse - Decades of Style pattern

You can see more photos in the post My Fall for Cotton 1940s Girl Friday Blouse Is Finished!

This year was the first time I sewed with chevron fabric – which I discovered was not quite the same as sewing stripes (heheh). I made my Chevron Red Velvet Dress, when I participated in Cake Patterns Red Velvet Knit Dress sewalong (pattern link here).

Red Velvet Knit Dress - Cake Patterns - csews.com

And finally, I made the Emery Dress, a Christine Haynes pattern, and did my first small bust adjustment and my first wide shoulder adjustment using the tutorials she provided with her Emery Dress Sewalong.

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

And coincidentally, these “firsts” are also my top five. Happy New Year! Do you have any sewing resolutions for 2014?

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Cutting Chevron Knit Fabric and Matching Chevrons

Red Velvet Knit Dress - Cake Patterns - csews.com

The biggest challenge in making this dress from the Red Velvet Knit Dress Pattern (a lovely Cake Patterns design) was preparing the fabric for cutting and sewing. So here’s my promised rundown of my experience cutting chevron knit fabric and matching chevrons along the side seams. (You can see more photos of the dress and read about the Red Velvet sewalong in the post “My Chevron Red Velvet Dress.”)

This was my first time sewing chevrons so I don’t think I can call this a tutorial. But hopefully you can learn something from my experience. And hey, I’ve got plenty of photos of my side seams, which I’m really proud of. So excuse me as I insert one here of the bodice side seam. 😉

Matching chevrons in rayon knit fabric - csews.com

This chevron fabric is a rayon jersey by Ella Moss, which I got from Stonemountain & Daughter Fabrics in Berkeley. The bodice fabric has chevrons that are about a 1/2 inch wide (about 1.3 cm for you metric folks) and each chevron from point to point is about 3 inches (7.6 cm) tall – with a really steep angle. The skirt’s larger chevrons are about 2 inches (5 cm) wide and each chevron is about 7 inches (17.75 cm) tall. I liked the contrast of having a larger print on the bottom.

I assumed when I got the fabric that it would be similar to sewing stripes. Hahahaha. Well, if your chevrons are shallow and the angle of the chevrons is 45 degrees, it probably is a lot more like sewing stripes. For example, the chevrons on this cotton jersey from Girl Charlee Fabrics are probably a little easier to sew than my fabric. The chevrons on this cotton knit are about 2 inches tall.

Chevron knit fabric - Girl Charlee Fabrics

Meanwhile, I’m approaching my fabric’s chevrons like they’re stripes. Before I began cutting I read a really great tutorial on matching stripes on a knit fabric on Sewholic’s site here. So I began preparing the bodice fabric according to her striped knit fabric instructions.

I folded my fabric in half. I knew I wanted the apex of my chevron to be in the exact center so I folded it right in the middle. The fabric seemed a bit clingy after I prewashed and dried it (yes, I put it in the dryer on low to ensure it wouldn’t shrink any further but I’ll air dry now that it’s completed). This cling factor was both good and bad – good because the fabric didn’t move much once I folded it but bad because it was hard to smooth it out the ripples to line up the chevrons.

I pinned through both sides of my folded fabric, placing my pin alongside a chevron. I did this every couple of chevrons. Luckily I could see through to the other side of the fabric (yay for black and white!) so it wasn’t too hard to line up. But it took a long time to get those edges to match because this is a stretchy knit. I discovered I could gently pat the fabric to get the chevrons to line up – patting it in whatever direction it needed to go.

Matching chevrons in rayon knit fabric - csews.com

Then I flipped over my fabric to check the match – you can (sort of ) see the two pins near the fold. The apex of the chevron is on the fold.

Matching chevrons in rayon knit fabric - csews.com

I think it took me about an hour and a half to do the front and back bodice. Really! (At this point in the sewalong, most folks had already started sewing and I hadn’t cut anything yet!)

After pinning the chevrons, I placed and pinned my front bodice pattern piece on the fabric. My midriff piece was a solid black rayon and I wanted the tip of the black chevron to look like it was coming out of the black. So that’s what determined where I would place the bottom of the bodice. This pattern uses 1/2-inch seam allowances so I just made sure to add that amount.

When I cut the fabric, I left the pins in place unless they were in the way of my scissors. Here’s the front bodice (note: I added about 3 inches to the bottom of my bodice – you can sort of see the faint line I drew below the bodice, which is where I cut it).

Matching chevrons in rayon knit fabric - csews.com

Here’s the back bodice – you can see the pins are still in the fabric. I didn’t remove the pins until I was ready to sew.

Matching chevrons in rayon knit fabric - csews.com

The Mistake

I cut the front and the back bodice pieces separately. I had stripes (not chevrons!) on the brain and I just assumed that if I cut each piece with the chevron in centered on the fold and cut the bottom in the same place that everything would be fine. Uh, no. That would work only if the front and back pieces were the exact same width and everything was perfectly cut. But the front bodice piece has pleats so it’s wider than the back. Duh. Somehow I wasn’t paying attention to this detail.

I also needed to pay attention to where the seam line would go on the fabric. But I totally forgot about how I would match the side seams. If you want your seam to be at the apex of the chevron, then you need to make sure you place your pattern so that the seam line will go right down the middle of the chevron. So centering the pattern piece on the fold isn’t as important as paying attention to the side seams. Have your seam gauge in hand to ensure that you’ve got the right seam allowance.

Here’s what I saw when put the front and back pieces together so the chevrons would line up. Grrrrrrr.

Red Velvet side seam - csews.com

To get the pieces to line up perfectly, I should have cut one bodice piece, put it on top of the fabric, aligning the chevrons of the cut piece and the fabric. Then I could mark the side seams on the fabric so they would match.

I panicked for a moment wondering if I needed to run to the fabric store and buy some more fabric. But then I took a breath, and pinned and basted the side seams. Thanks again to Katie of Kadiddlehopper for the advice and reassurance on Instagram (her IG handle is @kid_md, mine is @csews)!

Matching chevrons in rayon knit fabric - csews.com

Then I basted the midriff pieces together, pinned the bodice to the midriff and adjusted the width of my pleats to compensate for the side seam change.

I removed all the pins after I basted. Then I tried on the bodice. It still fit! Here’s the photo I posted on Instagram (@csews is my handle there) of the basted bodice. (Excuse the dirty bathroom mirror!)

Matching chevrons in rayon knit fabric - csews.com

And basting this short side seam was good practice for the skirt. I basted down the exact middle of the chevrons. Basting is an absolute must if you want to match your pattern. After I basted, I checked the seam to make sure I wasn’t off anywhere and then I sewed my side seams.

Because I had such a tiny seam allowance, I decided to leave my seam unfinished (I don’t have a serger) but I wanted to make sure I had a strong side seam so I used the ugly straight stretch stitch on my machine. The stretch stitch goes over each stitch three times. Here’s that side seam.

Matching chevrons in rayon knit fabric - csews.com

Here’s my bodice side seam from the wrong side…

Matching chevrons in rayon knit fabric - csews.com

and here it is from the right side. You can’t really tell where it is, can you? Well, it’s where the apex is slightly shorter than the two chevrons next to it (third chevron from the left). So I was slightly off but you can’t really tell because the chevrons are the same width so it all blends in!

Matching chevrons in rayon knit fabric - csews.com

So what about the shoulder seam? Well, I decided to forgo any attempt at matching the chevrons at the shoulder. I decided I would just let it be whatever it was. Plus I wasn’t sure if it was even possible to match anything there.

Here’s what the shoulder seam looks like:

Matching chevrons in rayon knit fabric - csews.com

Nothing matches but it’s fine with me. I’m side-seam obsessed anyway.

Now for the skirt – big chevrons! For this pin job, I put pins at the apex of the chevrons. You can see how the fabric isn’t quite flat. I spent at more than two hours (two!), getting the first skirt piece to line up and lay flat. I began one evening and then had to stop and go to bed and then the following day got back to it after I got home from work. I had no idea the large chevrons would take longer to prepare than the small ones.

Matching chevrons in rayon knit fabric - csews.com

The great thing about the Red Velvet pattern is that you use the same pattern piece for the front and back of the skirt. Perfect for matching! Cutting the back was so much easier! By this time, I realized that all I had to do was lay the first piece down on my fabric and make sure the chevrons at the sides top, and bottom matched. If there were wrinkles in the middle, I left them. It was only important for the first piece so there wouldn’t be any distortion.

Here’s my first skirt piece. I lengthened it by several inches as you can see below. The pattern piece has a curving bottom to allow for the pleats at the top of the skirt.

Matching chevrons in rayon knit fabric - csews.com

Now’s a good time to show the line drawing of the Red Velvet pattern so you can see what I mean. I used a box pleat on my dress.
Red Velvet Knit Dress - Cake Patterns

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

After I cut the first skirt piece out, I opened it up and put it on top of the fabric, pinning and lining up the chevrons. I didn’t use as many pins here, most of them were near the edges (top, bottom, and sides). My table wasn’t as wide as the fabric opened up so I moved it over to cut.

Matching chevrons in rayon knit fabric - csews.com

Then I pinned and basted through the apex – notice that I needed to come in a bit in the hip area and down the sides so I could place my seam in the middle of the apex. Lucky for me Cake Patterns are drafted with zero ease so I could come in a half-inch on both sides and the skirt would still fit.

Matching chevrons in rayon knit fabric - csews.com

After I checked and adjusted my basting, I trimmed the excess so I would have a 1/2-inch seam allowance.

Matching chevrons in rayon knit fabric - csews.com

Then I sewed and finished my side seam…

Matching chevrons in rayon knit fabric - csews.com

and got this!

Matching chevrons in rayon knit fabric - csews.com

Yay!!!!!

Then I attached the midriff piece to the skirt, adjusting the front pleat to fit. Here’s a close up of the front with the bust pleats and front skirt box pleat. See how the black chevrons emerge from the black midriff band?

Matching chevrons in rayon knit fabric - csews.com

And here’s another side seam view. The bodice and skirt look like one piece, don’t they?

Red Velvet Dress - csews.com

One last thing – I used white thread at the hem and then I used a Sharpie on the white thread on the black chevrons. Thanks to Staci (@arubyrosebud on Instagram) for mentioning the Sharpie to me earlier this month. And thanks also to the folks who voted that I use a Sharpie when I posed the question on Instagram (@gjeometry aka Catja of Gjeometry, Staci, @kid_md aka Katie of Kadiddlehopper, @sewbrook aka Brooke of Custom Style, @theseedsof3 aka Melanie of The Seeds of 3, and @Sewsowninlove). Whew!!!!! Thanks for reading!

Matching chevrons in rayon knit fabric - csews.com

Have you ever sewn chevrons? Were your chevrons on knit fabric or woven? What was your experience like?

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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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Everyday Dresses

Emery Dress and Red Velvet Dress Sewalongs

A few weeks ago I realized that I don’t have any everyday dresses in my wardrobe. Not one. I have everyday skirts but no everyday dresses. Yep. I’m more of a separates kinda gal so that’s part of the reason. And I guess the other reason is my attitude toward dresses. I guess I think of them as being something that you don’t wear everyday.

The five dresses I own only get worn a couple of times a year or not even that. They include a vintage black dress that I got years ago; the dress I wore as a bridesmaid to a wedding; two dresses I made from vintage Vogue patterns, and the dress I made for my BurdaStyle Sewing Vintage Modern contest entry earlier this year (I was a finalist but didn’t win). I usually end up wearing a vintage hat with these outfits and even a crinoline with the one I made for the sewing contest – not exactly everyday wear but I do wear them to work when I’m in the mood and the weather is warm enough in San Francisco.

So when I heard about Christine Haynes‘s Emery Dress and the Red Velvet Dress by Cake Patterns – I had to take a closer look. At first I thought the Emery Dress was a touch too girly for me – I think the bow made me hesitate. But then I saw the striped Emery Dress by Devon of Miss Make blog and it convinced me that I should get the pattern. She cut the collar on the bias and it looks fabulous, doesn’t it? She kindly let me repost this photo from her blog post Emery Dress Pattern.

Emery Dress - sewn by Devon of Miss Make - pattern by Christine Haynes

The Emery Dress Sewalong has just started but Christine is only on fabric and notions. Muslin sewing starts on Oct. 30. You can view the schedule here. I think you could still join in on it if you order the pattern right away. In November Christine will focus on bust adjustments – small and full. I’m looking forward to that!

The Red Velvet Sewalong starts on November 11! So there’s still time to participate.It’ll be a series of ten sessions over two weeks. I participated in the Cake Patterns Hummingbird Sewalong earlier this year, which was a lot of fun. So far I’ve made three Hummingbird tops, which you can see here.

Melizza of Pincushion Treats was a pattern tester for the Red Velvet sewing pattern. You can see two of the dresses she made here.

And I also love the Lady Skater Dress that Katie of Kadiddlehopper made. She wrote about it in Lady Skater: Sakura Blossom Style and graciously let me post this photo of her twirling around in the dress. Check out her post for more photos of this pretty dress.

Lady Skater Dress by Katie of Kadiddlehopper

And last but not least, today my copy of Clothing for Everyday: Stylish Dress Book by Yoshiko Tsukiori arrived! I pre-ordered it on Amazon.

Clothing for Everyday Wear: Stylish Dress Book by Toshiko Tsukiori

This is the English translation published by Laurence King. There are dresses, tops, jackets, and pants in this book – a total of 26 garments – according to the book flap. There are plenty of photos in the book – slender, winsome, and unsmiling  Japanese models, which probably means grading the pattern up a bit for me. The pattern is sized for XS, S, M, and L. No XL folks.

The dimensions for large are 36 5/8″ (93 cm) bust; 29 1/8″ (74 cm) waist, and 38 5/8″ (98 cm) hips. Based on that, I’m more of an XL in the hips and height. Oh, and the pattern gives the same height for all four sizes – 63″ (160 cm), which must be a mistake. 63″ is 5′ 3″. I’m nearly 5′ 8″ so who knows what the height measurement means.

I’m looking forward to adding everyday dresses to my wardrobe. Have you made any dresses that fall into the everyday category? What patterns have you liked? Have you  made anything from Japanese pattern books? What was your sizing experience like?

And do let me know if you’re participating in the Emery Dress Sewalong or the Red Velvet Sewalong. I’d love to see what your version looks like!

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My First Hat Fitting

I won the drawing for a straw hat fedora! Last weekend I was thrilled to go to my first hat fitting.

How did this happen? Well, I donated money to hat designer Elwyn Crawford’s Indiegogo campaign and one of the donation levels was to contribute $5 to be entered into a hat drawing for a straw fedora. I had already made one contribution to her campaign but when she added that perk, I couldn’t resist.

Elwyn wanted to raise funds to expand O’Lover Hats, her custom hat business, and start an internship program. I interviewed her last month about her hat business (“Q&A with Elwyn Crawford of O’Lover Hats“) and about her campaign (“O”Lover Hats Indiegogo Campaign“).

I usually buy ready-to-wear hats – either vintage or from a store or craft fair. As some folks may know, I wear hats everyday. (You can read more about my love of hats on my Hats page.) It was a new and exciting experience for me to actually be fitted for a hat.

The hat-fitting experience is similar to what you would do when you sew a garment. You choose your fabric, your pattern, and you have your measurements at hand. In this case, I was choosing which straw form would be made into a fedora.

4 straw hat forms
A range of straw hat forms to choose from

The first thing Elwyn did was to measure my head. Then she brought out a stack of straw hat forms. There are many different forms woven in different patterns and with straw of various shades. Elwyn will then shape the hat into a fedora (cutting down the brim, shaping the crown, and so on). She told me to pick out a few that I liked and then we would narrow it down. I chose these four. I really liked the lacy look of the two hats above. Elwyn has pushed in the crown of three of the hats in a fedora-like shape to give me a sense of what it would look like.

The white straw form that will be made into a fedora
The white straw form that will be a fedora

I put each one on but the lacy ones had more of a yellow tone that didn’t do much for my skin. The white hat form looked the best so that is the one I chose.

Elwyn brought out a few hats for me to try on to see which shape and brim width were the right shape for me. She took into consideration the height of the crown as well as the width of the brim and how the hat shape went with my face. We decided that the black straw hat fedora was The One (see photo below).

I wanted to give Elwyn a sense of my style, which would help her decide what hat design is best for me. I decided to wear something that I would wear to work. So I wore my Cake Patterns Hummingbird peplum top along with a silk polka dot skirt. (You can get this easy-to-make sewing pattern at Cake’s Etsy shop.) I finished making this top last week. I made a blue one in June, which I blogged about (“My First Sewalong – Hummingbird 30 Minutes a Day“).

Elwyn asked me if I had any fedora hats and I told her I had one wool one but hat I didn’t wear it very much. Fedoras are a rather masculine hat. She assured me that she would make sure it had a feminine look to it. She also asked me if I wore polka dots a lot. I told her I just had this one skirt but that I had other skirts with circles and swirls on them.

Creating a hat is a personal endeavor – and Elwyn strives to make something that is not only the right fit but suits the client’s personality.

So now I’ll be waiting a few weeks for Elwyn to do her magic and then I’ll meet her again to see how the hat fits and to decide on how to trim the hat. I can hardly wait!

Here are some more photos of Elwyn’s studio, which is part of the 25th Street Collective in Oakland. She not only creates her hats here, her creations are also on display. As you can see, she’s very talented!

My Hummingbird top (pattern by Sewing Cake) and black straw fedora by O'Lover Hats
My Hummingbird top (pattern by Sewing Cake) and black straw fedora by O’Lover Hats
Hats on display at O'Lover Hats, designs by Elwyn Crawford
Hats on display at O’Lover Hats, designs by Elwyn Crawford
Hat blocks
In Elwyn’s studio: Hat blocks Elwn uses to shapes hats