Tag Archives: finished projects

Class samples: Zoe Dress

In March I’m teaching a class on the Zoe Dress by Sew Over It at Periwinkle Quilting. So it was high time to get on with sewing my sample.

This is a cute basic dress and I figured it would be a step beyond the very basic Arum I did last year. And I really, really liked this beige-with-writing-and-roses fabric. I had a really great fit with the SOI Betty Dress back before Christmas, so I was pretty excited.

I’m generally a big proponent of tracing when it comes to expensive indie patterns, but I find the SOI patterns really hard to trace. The Betty didn’t have different line styles for the different sizes, which made it hard to pick out the right size, and this one had different line styles, but some of them were really faint, with tiny and spaced out dots, including the size 12 I was tracing for the lower half. Also there’s more notches than you can shake a stick at, and I always miss notches when I trace. So I cut. Based on the Betty, I cut a size 10 for the shoulders and bust and a size 12 for the waist and hip. I didn’t do a petite alteration, but I did add a small swayback adjustment, by shortening the back piece at the waistline and taking a wedge out of the side piece, since the pattern has princess seams but no side seams.

I tend to like a lot of ease in the hips, so I kinda wish I had gone up another size there. As is, I let out the side back princess seams as much as possible–you can’t adjust the front princess seams because there are pockets in this area (yay pockets), but the back is where I really need the room anyway.

You can see the pulling across the back armscye in this one.

The swayback adjustment worked well, although it’s possible I should’ve petited somewhere by a smidgeon.

There are back neck darts. They make a nice shape and I didn’t modify the shoulder slope or anything. (Often I have to square it a bit)

But something is off with the back armscye. The sleeve cap is tall and narrow, which alarmed me a bit, and it definitely works well if I keep my arms down but doesn’t allow a lot of motion. And moving my arms to the front the littlest bit pulls mightily across the back. Fortunately this cotton has quite a bit of give, but it feels like I need a bit of a forward-shoulder adjustment—it’s tight across the back if I try to move my arms forward, but roomy across the chest. Weird because that’s not something I’ve ever needed. Possibly I could let out the seam at the back armscye a wee bit…

I did raise the underarm a tiny bit, which I almost always do, and that helps with the mobility a bit, but I’m just not totally sold on that armscye. And I’ll definitely be checking back measurements when we do the class.

All in all, though, it’s pretty cute.

I’m going to show you my greatest, most terrible shame now, though:

There. There it is. Do you see? How in the HELL did I not check, when I went to cut it out, which way the print was facing? Of all the STUPID… anyway, I can’t go on or this blog will descend into a string of profanity I’ll probably regret releasing onto the internet.

On a happier note, the invisible zipper and the facing attachment fully by machine went smooth as butter. After all these years I still think of Pattern, Scissors, Cloth every time I do this. And yes, I still had pink thread in the serger from the baby overalls, and it makes me happy.

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Palate Cleanser

After the protracted trauma of the suit jacket (post still to come), I needed something fast and satisfying. And fortunately (?) I had another deadline just around the corner—a baby shower for one of my old Fabricland colleagues.

Now, I didn’t sew when my children were little (and even if I had, that was before the plethora of insanely adorable modern kids’ indie patterns mushroomed into being) so while I do have a few baby patterns, most of them aren’t, ah, overly compelling. There are a couple of nice vintage dresses, but nothing I felt really moved to work on. The one exception was this tiny overalls pattern. It’s been a long time since I indulged my love of sewing with hammers, but there are few things more satisfying.

And when I figured out the scrap of fabric left over from my Arum dress would be just big enough—well, sold.

I traced off the 3-month size, but using the 6 month leg and strap length. The legs still seem insanely short, but I imagine that has everything to do with how long it’s been since I had a baby to dress. Oddly, the pattern doesn’t suggest you make the straps adjustable. That seems like an obvious omission.

A hunt through the thread stash didn’t turn up any topstitching thread a good colour, but apparently I do have a 500-m spool of dusty pink regular thread. Don’t ask me why. (It’s not even one of the many spools of dodgy ancient inherited thread!) So I fiddled with my Elna and managed to slightly lengthen the triple-stitch setting, and voila! This is when the Elna’s ridiculous speed really comes in handy—even doing triple-stitch, it moves along at a great clip and doesn’t make me want to stab something. The only downside is the limited needle position control, which makes fine-tuning your topstitching distances tricky. I did all the topstitching with a 1/4″ foot, which was not bad but my edgestitching is a little more wobbly than I’d like. All in all, though, everything went well, except that every once in a while the Elna bobbin seems to start catching on something and then everything snarls up and you have to rethread the whole damn thing.

I haven’t made a lot of overalls. Actually, this might be the first time I’ve ever made overalls. Anyway, I found myself a lot more reliant on the sketchy Burda instructions than I like to be. There’s some weird stuff around the hip closures. In particular, some of the pattern pieces didn’t have their names marked on them, just numbers, and the instructions didn’t always reference the number. And there are quite a few little rectangles and almost-rectangles that were tricky to differentiate. And I would’ve liked some indication of when to finish seams, from time to time. But on the whole it all went together fairly well.

Things got a bit more off-road when it came to the hardware. My hardware stash is not nearly as vast as my fabric stash, and it’s actually getting a bit depleted at this point. I wanted heavy-duty snaps for the waistband and lighter ones for the rest of the closure. The pattern called for some cute little alligator-type clips for the straps, which I did not have, nor was I willing to venture out into our current blizzard to see what I could obtain locally. So I opted for D-rings and more snaps. Sturdy, but maybe a bit bulky, especially since I wanted the straps to be adjustable so I included extra back-snaps.

My stash of heavy-duty snaps came mostly from a thrift store acquisition of vintage snaps that have some cool colours—including three with a dusty pink finish that was perfect with my topstitching! Except that I only had three. And this vintage set was missing the back most pieces, which means I have to use extra snap fronts on the backs, too. Probably nice against baby skin, but it means I’m going to have a lot of extra snap middles when I’m done. I used lighter-weight snaps for the rest of the side closures, and added rivets at the pocket corners. That was probably the most annoying part, as there was something like 12 layers of fabric at the pocket corners. My silver rivet posts actually weren’t long enough, and I had to swap them out for longer black ones on the inside. Not visible, happily, unlike the mishmash of snap colours. I’m mostly just happy I managed to use those pink snaps, though.

There are a couple of other little details I meant to add but didn’t. I had some pink grosgrain to make a little tab sticking out of a pocket, and a teeny D-ring hanging from below one of the useless belt-loops would’ve been adorable… but I didn’t remember, and the cute factor is pretty high, anyway. So we’ll call it good, and hopefully baby Tessa (or at least, her mother) will find them as adorable as I do. I’m really excited about this baby shower, as I’m pretty sure most every gift will be hand-made. It should be great!

My god, did I mention these are cute?

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One Yoko

Back around Christmas, Jalie patterns released a free, boxy sweater pattern, the Yoko—pretty cute with its cozy cowl and skinny sleeves, I gotta say, and “boxy” is not my adjective of choice. Anyway, like all e-hoarders, I promptly downloaded the pattern and then didn’t think much about it, other than nodding approvingly whenever one popped up on the feed.

But last weekend was my niece (Fyon)’s twelfth birthday. And I’ve been trying to whip up something quick for my nieces for these occasions, while they’re young enough not to tell me to go jump in a lake. In any case, she’s been wearing the sparkly dress I made her last year quite a bit (as it turned out she was wearing it when I got to the party) so, y’know.

I thought that a soft, grey, drapey version of Yoko might be perfect for an almost-young-lady, a little sophisticated and a lot comfy. Assuming, anyway, that she didn’t hate turtlenecks.

It was super simple to sew, once I figured out that half the sleeve wasn’t missing (the sleeve “cap” isn’t—it’s completely flat!)

And it was just as drapey and suave as I had hoped, but maybe a bit plain. So I sacrificed one of my precious hoarded lace appliqués, picked up during the last, desperate discount days at Fabricland, and stitched them on the back as angel-wings. That little act of hand-sewing approximately tripled the time it took to make the sweater, but I think it was well worth it. Fyon loves the sweater (or at least that’s what she said), and I think it’s adorable on her, except I didn’t manage to get a picture. But, y’know. You can trust me.

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Interstitial Blackwood

I’m in the throes of a Big Project (TM) that is eating my brain and possibly driving me crazy. Did I mention making a suit jacket for my uncle? Yes? I wish I hadn’t. Anyway, I’m not quite ready to dive into that pile of angst yet, but suffice it to say, I needed a break from it.

So today, when I found myself in the sewing room at 8 am on a Sunday morning, with no children in the house and a husband sleeping on the living room couch, I found myself puttering.

First, in a bit of a landmark move, I went through my two giant bins of scraps (plus accessory bags and piles), stuffing the smaller and uglier into my pouf.

Wait, I hadn’t mentioned my pouf! After Closet Case Patterns blogged about their scrap-stuffed pouf pattern, I made one. But I hadn’t really tried to stuff it yet.

Over the course of a couple of hours the pouf went from empty to maybe 3/4 full, and the scraps went from two bins, two grocery bags, and several other piles, to one (albeit rather full) bin.

Believe it or not, this is uncommonly tidy for my sewing room.

It’s a New Years miracle! Freeing up a bin allowed me to pack up some more of the ambient fabric, and actually reorganize the bins a bit, so I was able to get several more bins off the floor and into the wall of stacked bins.

I cut out and sewed up a quick pair of Watson bikinis, a remnant from a piece a friend in Atlanta sent me yoinks ago, which I made into some early loungewear that I’ve since dyed a rather muted purple grey. I’d kinda forgotten how neon the original colour was.

I fussed around a bit more with the jacket.

I swept the floor.

And then, after some pleasant digging through my freshly re-ordered bins, I whipped up a second Blackwood Cardigan. The first on I made, for my birthday, has been in heavy rotation ever since, only limited by the fact that a subset of my outfits don’t work with a burgundy cardigan.

Now I gotta say, the wool I used the first time was a FAR better fabric. This time I picked this pretty piece of knit jacquard, which came in as a factory remnant. The factory remnants Fabricland gets are generally pretty inexpensive, and I guess they’re a “sustainable” option since you’re using fabric that would otherwise go straight to a dump—but they can be pretty rank. They usually seem to be bits the factory has cut around because of staining or some other flaw.

This particular piece had large yellow hand-writing at one end (fortunately on the wrong side) and a linear flaw in the jacquard all down one side, not to mention being cut wildly off grain. The fabric itself is nothing special, either, highly synthetic and pretty much guaranteed to snag almost instantly. But, very pretty.

Underarm flaw—not noticeable.

I was just barely able to squeeze the main body pieces out of the patterned fabric—with only a bit of the flaw along the edge of the sleeve, where it’s very hard to notice.

Wobbly pocket is wobbly. We are going to love it anyway.

I was lucky enough to find a bit of black sweaterknit of a similar weight and quality to make the bands and pockets. They’re both very soft and squishy fabrics, so getting the pocket square, even with steam-a-seam to fuse it in place, was kinda a lost cause. But I’d rather have wobbly pockets than no pockets.

I’m sad (but not surprised) to report that, while very pretty and comfy, it’s definitely not as warm as my wool version. But it was simple and reliable and quick, which is everything the ongoing project is not, and sometimes a dose of simple is exactly what you need.

Happy Sunday!

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Walking in a winter walking skirt

A few years ago in my town, something began showing up among the stylish and hipster in the city: Uksi winter skirts. Now, how to dress for the Canadian winter (and in particular how to do so stylishly) is an ongoing and chronic problem, and I was intrigued by the idea—a wool wrap-around skirt you can throw on quickly to keep your legs warm. Like snow-pants, but faster and less annoying. But, I didn’t think they were something I needed, since I’ve been exclusively a long-coat-wearer since 1998 or so.

Then I made the Red Lace Coat, two years ago. Now this is also a long coat, but as I wore it last winter, I realized that while the thinsuate interlining and denser (if polyester) coating fabric make it significantly warmer than my grey coat, the slightly shorter and full-circle skirt made it significantly less warm around the legs. A tricky conundrum—potentially solved by a long, custom walking skirt.

Finally, in the last days of 2019, whilst procrastinating from another project, I decided to trial the concept. A look through my pattern database turned up three good candidates—I don’t have a lot of wrap skirt patterns since it’s not a style I favour usually. Of course it wouldn’t be hard to hack an ordinary skirt pattern, but less work is less work.

In the end I went with Simplicity 7497, for its narrow skirt, low fabric requirements and larger size (and the parts where one of the other patterns is MIA, very upsetting, and the other had been cut off at the knee length view).

Walking skirt, with bonus cat hair!

The larger size was a good call, since this is basically outerwear and needs more ease (I also didn’t overlap it quite as much as it technically should). I like the length, as well. However, I think a slightly fuller cut would have been a good idea—this one flaps open a bit more than ideal while walking. On the other hand, the wider it gets the less warm the skirt is.

the fabric is a polyester coating that I really don’t care for, but it’s essentially the same stuff as my Red Lace coat is made of, and I didn’t want to waste any of my precious wool on a project that might be a total waste of time.

I was originally planning to interline with flannel, but the only flannel I had enough of that I was prepared to sacrifice was one my daughter came in and dibsed for PJs while I was midway through ironing it. In the end I went with fabric from a rather ugly rayon bedsheet, which was almost as slithery as my evilly beautiful polyester lining (a remnant from a project a couple of years ago, where it also nearly killed me). This is the first time I’ve hand-basted underlining since my Very First Dress. (As in that case, it made some misery-inducing fabric almost easy to handle, so totally worth it two out of two times!)

Very large hanging loop, for throwing over hangers as necessary.

I tested it out, sans buttons, last Monday, which was the coldest day of the winter we’ve had so far. (It’s actually been a ridiculously warm winter in these parts.) And it seemed helpful, but tended to flap open a bit, so I’ve added a few more buttons. A better interlining would’ve been a good call, but if necessary I could go in and MacGyver something between the two layers. I’ve been saying the same thing about my grey coat for eight years, mind you.

All pictures lightened dangerously so you can see… anything.

I need to adjust the middle button, as the placement is off, causing that weird pulling.

Now if it will just stop melting long enough for me to test out its final form. Thanks, climate change.

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In further velvet news

I’m not the biggest fan of fashion trends, in general, but when the trend of the moment happens to overlap with your innate preferences… well, you just gotta run with it, right? Which is how I feel about velvet right now.

Anyway, I’m plugging along with my Christmas sewing like a good little elf, but intermittently, I’ve been indulging in quick little selfish projects, as you may have noticed. The most recent, to go with last week’s velvet stockings, is a little velvet slip.

I used Butterick 6031 again. I’m trying to do a count in my head and I think I’ve made the slip or cami a total of six times. Well, seven now. I’ve made the briefs a couple of times, too, but I’m not as wild about them.

I love the shape of the pattern, and I love that the separate bust piece with the dart builds in a little shape and support. It’s not much, but I don’t need much. It’s just nice.

For this version, I went very pared down. I didn’t want to mix flimsy stretch lace with the heftier velvet. So I went with FOE for the top edge and straps, and I lengthened the skirt three inches. I’ll probably shave an inch or so off of that, though, it’s a little long now.

I used my usual 5/8″ FOE (which finishes at about 1/4″) and I think I maybe should’ve gone with the 1″ that finishes at about 1/2″ for a heftier look, but it didn’t even occur to me. I use the 5/8″ for just about everything, and I’m making a pretty good dent in that giant 100-yard spool I got a few years ago.

Oh, and I cut everything with the nap running up—I didn’t even think of it until I had it on my body and realized that I can only pet myself running upward. Downward would feel more natural. What, don’t tell me you don’t pet yourself when you’re swathed in velvet!

The whole thing took about half an hour, including cutting out. It helps that the pattern was in my quick-access drawer and that I used the same black thread that was already on the machines.

Now obviously a velvet slip is not very effective as a slip per se, but it’s a pretty awesome nightie. Especially when it has matching velvet stockings. Presumably a robe would complete the set but I’m not much of a robe person… we’ll see. For now—back to the Christmas presents!

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Not even naughty

I was a good girl this weekend and finished off the onesie for my younger niece. I did the one for her older sister last week, so those two major Xmas projects are done.

As a reward for myself, I made some velvet stockings.

Let’s back up a little. I’ve been a bit obsessed with velvet this year. I mean, i always like velvet AND it’s on trend, so it’s like the double-bounce of fashion trends. Plus a semi-local maker, Five of Hearts Studio, has been all about the velvet and velour as well, and I’ve been completely internet-stalking all her makes. And real-life stalking, too, since I actually went down to a real life craft fair to say hi. And buy a velvet toque, because you do. She was very nice and didn’t even run and hide. So there.

The pattern, as usual, is the Dreamstress’s Rosalie Stockings. I thought I might need to add width since stretch velvet isn’t as stretchy as a lot of the fabrics I would use for stockings, but a test revealed it was fine, so I made them as is.

What stretch velvet is a little lacking in is lengthwise stretch, so they weren’t very tall, only just over my knees. That’s fine, I added a cuff at the top—which made a handy place to attach some gripper elastic without it being as obvious as if it’s right at the top.

They aren’t quite as comfortable as they would be without the gripper elastic, but the annoyance of falling-down stockings is even worse. And while I do mean to make myself a garter belt at some point, I haven’t made it yet.

Anyway, these are making me absurdly happy right now. I definitely need another pair in red in time for Xmas.

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