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.
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.
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.)
On Day 4 I wore my Hummingbird peplum, a Cake Patterns top, which I made last year. (You can read about it here.)
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?)
On Day 6 I wore this bias cut skirt. The fabric is from Discount Fabrics in San Francisco.
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.
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.
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.
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!
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!
This year began with a bang: In January I was promoted at work and I also decided to take up the reins as the new organizer for the Bay Area Sewists meetup group, which I mentioned in this earlier post. So life had been super busy, which is why I’ve hardly posted anything in 2014.
But I’m happy to report that on Saturday, February 22, the first official 2014 Bay Area Sewists meetup that I organized, finally happened in Berkeley. It took me a while to get going because I needed to find a free place to meet. One member suggested the San Francisco Public Library but I don’t live in San Francisco and you need to be a resident to use their meeting rooms. Then I discovered that the Berkeley Public Library has a great Community Meeting Room that Berkeley-based organizations can use for free. Our group qualifies because I’m in Berkeley.
I asked Kirsty of Tea and Rainbows if she could help me with this first meetup and she was happy to help. She checked out a Berkeley cafe and restaurant for potential meeting places and she arrived early to help set up. She also had her husband print out some labels for the various pattern categories (dresses, skirts, tops, menswear, etc.) And Meg of Made by Meg, Bay Area Sewists founder, also came early to help set up and stayed to get the room back in order. Thank you Kirsty and Meg!
The room has great tables on wheels that you can easily position around the room. I decided to put them in a square so people could wander around and look at all the patterns. As more and more members and patterns arrived, we added more tables. We began with four tables and ended up filling up eight tables. Dress patterns took up two tables!
More than 20 members came, and nearly everyone brought patterns – anywhere from three or four to more than 30! I handed out “tickets” (small history cards that I had at home) for each pattern. The idea was that people could take as many patterns as they brought.To be fair, everyone who brought a pattern got to pick one pattern, and then after everyone picked one, they got to pick a second one, and then we did a few more rounds and then everyone could just pick however many patterns they wanted.
I brought seven patterns and picked up these four at our swap:
I absolutely adore the hat patterns! I have another Patricia Underwood Vogue hat pattern that I got a few years ago. I really like her designs. I want to make that black hat. You can never have too many hats, right?
The vintage Simplicity pattern is from 1967. I always liked those dress/jacket outfits you see in those 1960s films. And now I can make my very own combo!
The Vogue dress pattern appealed to me because of the dropped waist and pleats. And I thought the Very Easy Very Vogue pattern could add some nice casual staples to my wardrobe. And all of these patterns were uncut.
At the end of the swap we held a drawing for Christine Haynes‘s lovely Emery Dress pattern, which was won by Nancy. Thank you, Christine for donating your pattern for our meetup!
If you make the dress, be sure to check out Christine’s Emery Dress Sewalong blog posts on making the dress. You’ll find tips on making adjustments and installing the invisible zipper, and plenty more.
More than 60 leftover patterns were donated to the nonprofit East Bay Depot for Creative Reuse in Oakland. Just for fun, I did a count and discovered that among this pile were 27 McCalls patterns, 12 Simplicity, 11 Vogue, 9 Butterick, 3 New Look, 2 Burda, and 10 miscellaneous (not Big Four).
Oh, and as I counted the patterns, I found this XL, XXL pajama pattern – perfect for my husband who needs some new pajama bottoms.
Karen of Blinky Sews brought her husband to our meetup and he took some group photos at the end. Unfortunately, mine came out blurry so I won’t post them here. But Meg wrote a post last week about the meetup and included a nice group photo, which he also took. So be sure to check it out!
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.
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.
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.
And coincidentally, these “firsts” are also my top five. Happy New Year! Do you have any sewing resolutions for 2014?
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!
I 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.
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.
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. :/
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.
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.
And it worked! The piping lines up! Wahoo!
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!
And now to the nitty-gritty details.
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.
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).
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.
And here are some more views of the completed dress – yes, the dress has pockets!
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.
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.
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!
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?
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.
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).
The fit wasn’t bad but you can see that it’s a little loose in the bust. I could pinch about 1/2″.
In this side view you can see how it’s a bit roomy there, especially above the bust dart.
So I made the adjustments following the SBA tutorial on Christine Haynes blog.
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!
Here’s the side view of my SBA muslin. Hey, no wrinkle!
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!
Have you done any bust adjustments? How did it go?
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.
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.
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.
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!