Follow Me Wrap Dress

And How To Simplify Hemming The Flounce

I couldn’t resist purchasing the Pattern Emporium Follow Me Wrap Dress when it first released, even though I am not a flounce or ruffles kind of girl.  A girly girl, absolutely!  I love dresses and all sorts of womanly things.  But frills, flounces and ruffles?  Not my gig.  The pattern includes a plain wrap version, and four lengths from mini to below knee.  But the flounce version just spoke to me, and I knew a knee length sleeveless dress would be the most worn.

When I traced the pattern in my size, I originally added 2″ to the length of the skirt because a lot of my height is in my legs.  And I wanted it a flattering knee length that could also be worn to church.  Then I tried laying the pattern out.  No matter how hard I tried to Tetris the pattern pieces, I could not make them fit on a two yard cut of fabric.  After debating whether to skip the flounce, and deciding not to, I set the pattern aside for a while.

Most of the knit fabric in my stash is a one or two yard cut, depending upon the weight and intended use of the fabric.  I could have just ordered two and a half yards of fabric, but I prefer to place a larger fabric order to save on shipping costs.  Then the pandemic hit, and I kind of lost the desire to sew for myself.  I made masks for family members, and found sewing joy making clothes for my granddaughters.  It was fun to upcycle unworn clothing and to use some of the older fabric in my stash to make cute toddler and baby clothes.  Finally, it sounded fun to sew something pretty for myself.

So I pulled out the pattern and decided to just go for it as written.  I cut the added length off the traced skirt pieces, and kept the only other pattern alterations.  The seam on the back bodice bugged me, so I folded over the center back seam allowance and cut the piece on the fold instead.  To slightly widen the straps, the low round neckline was traced and cut one size smaller than the rest of the pattern.

Follow Me side

The ingenious design of the wrap means that even when taking a walk along the windy shoreline, I didn’t have to worry about accidental undie exposure.  The wrap crosses over far enough that even when the top panel is lifted by the wind, you still have full frontal coverage.

The dress feels fun and flirty, sexy and yet modest.  You can also increase the modesty factor by using the higher neckline, and adding the cap, short, flounce, or long sleeves.  The below knee length would change the look as well.

Follow Me laugh

The dress was sewn entirely on my serger, and the actual sewing time was much faster than the pinning time! 🙂  It takes more than a minute to pin all that flounce to the bottom of the skirt.  But it is such a fun touch that I definitely plan to use it on the next one.  I also figured out a way to make hemming the flounce simple and easy.

Although you may be tempted to skip hemming, especially when using a high quality knit that doesn’t curl, if I’ve taken the time to sew a nice garment, you can bet that I’m going to finish it off nicely!  Hemming curved skirts, or in this case a very curved flounce can be challenging.  When you pin the hem up, there’s all this extra fabric (due to the curve) and it can get “bunchy” and wrinkly.  But, if you serge along the bottom edge of the hem or flounce, and up the differential feed, it will very neatly, slightly “gather” the edge.  I upped the differential to 1.3 on my machine, which is one click up from N(eutral) on most of the curve.  On the more curved ends, I upped it to 1.5, which is two clicks up.

Follow Me flounce

As you can see on this inside view of the flounce, I used a four-thread overlock stitch.  The darker gray thread is my overlock, and the light gray thread is the looper thread of the coverstitched hem.  On the bottom left where the flounce has a slighter curve the 1.3 differential made slight gathers.  At the center bottom where the curve is sharper, upping the differential to 1.5 kind of gathered it a bit more, while still keeping the fabric smooth and unwrinkled.  All I had to do at that point was take it over to my ironing board and press the hem up into place.  I used a few clips to keep it in place while the fabric cooled, but it was super easy to coverstitch (or topstitch with a single or twin needle if you don’t have a coverstitch machine) at that point.

Once you start playing with a coverstitch, you tend to coverstitch everything.  The binding at the neckline and armscye was coverstitched, the hem was coverstitched, and the seam where the flounce was attached to the skirt got coverstitched.  I did not coverstitch the waist seam, because who wants to draw attention to that area? 😉

Technically, this is my “muslin” or “toile”, as I went straight to my nice nylon/spandex tricot from Phee Fabrics, rather than making a test garment.  But I know that Pattern Emporium patterns are a good fit with only minor tweaking for my body shape.  And sewing with high quality fabric is so much easier than wasting time with flimsy fabric.

I really like my dress, but as with every garment I make, I’d like to perfect it.  I’m thinking of raising the waist seam on the next one by approximately 1″ to hit closer to my natural waist.  I’m also considering going down a size in the bodice, but doing a full bust adjustment to address the wrinkling across the bust and pulling up into the armpit area.  Should I add an inch of length to the skirt to make up for the inch I plan to take out of the bodice?  Do you think I’m on the right track with a smaller size and FBA?

Follow Me back

Because I need more of these easy breezy summer dresses!  Hmmmm, maybe some soft rayon spandex for the next one?

I hope you have found your sewing joy.  But if you’re struggling, take the time to breathe deeply, then dive back in to a project that sounds fun to you. ❤

Going Forth

I have felt my eyes tear up at Mass on more than one occasion, and generally it is due to the moving words and music of a beloved hymn.  Sometimes it is a remark or observation during a homily that hits particularly close to home.  Obviously I have cried at funeral Masses, but I don’t recall tears dripping down my face and quickly ripping off my mask while hurrying to the car so that I can cry in private.  Until today.

Today was Fr. Jonathan’s last Sunday Mass at our parish.  I love Fr. Jonathan, and will really miss having him here.  The end of June is when Bishops transfer priests within their diocese to fill the needs in other parishes.  Perhaps a priest is retiring, or the needs of a parish are greater than one priest can handle.  Perhaps the gifts a priest possesses are greatly needed at another parish.  This is the time of year that the transfers happen.

When we first moved to Florida, and temporarily lived in the middle of the state, we attended the local Catholic church that my parents had attended when they lived there.  There wasn’t a big sense of belonging, because we knew that we were only living in that city for a short time.  When we bought our home, but hadn’t closed on it yet, we began our search for a Catholic church in the area.

It may seem funny that we didn’t bother looking for a new doctor or dentist, hairstylist or barber, restaurants or stores, but rather began researching our new town by looking for a church.  I guess it kind of shows how important a church family is to a Catholic.  We looked up the Catholic churches in the area, and I chose our church as the first to visit because it also had a school.  To me, this was a sign that the church was invested in nurturing families.  So we got up early on Sunday and made the long drive over to our soon-to-be new county, and went to Mass.

Fr. Jonathan presided over that Mass, and that was it.  There was no need to visit the other Catholic churches in the area, this was the one, this was home.  His passion and sincerity, his homilies that make you think, that speak to your heart, that inflame you with the Holy Spirit.  His reverence for the Body of Christ, all of it, and in a young man not much older than our children.  His preaching is truly inspired, and even guests who have gone to Mass with us have commented on the power in his words.

This, this is why I cried after saying a quick goodbye after Mass.  Because of CoVid 19 social distancing, we couldn’t hug Father, or even shake his hand.

After a particularly inspiring homily last year, I recall asking him after Mass if he had ever considered videotaping Mass, or at least his homilies.  He quizzically asked me, “Why?”  When I perhaps awkwardly explained that I would like to be able to share it with people on social media, he commented that there are others so much more qualified than he, who already had such things available.  And that the church didn’t really have the equipment to do such a thing.  Little did anyone know that just a year later everyone would have to adapt to livestreaming Mass!

Fortunately, we’ve been able to attend Mass in person this past month.  It seemed so disorienting at first.  As per the CDC guidelines, every other pew is blocked off.  We have to wear masks, and aren’t allowed to sing, so there’s no music.  We can wave or bow to others, but not shake hands for the sign of peace.  There are tape marks and arrows on the floor to follow when going to Communion, and sections are color coded to guide people to separate exit doors after Mass.

It’s quite different than normal, but it is SO GOOD to be able to receive the Body of Christ again!  It’s funny how something that we probably took for granted for years became so missed during the months we had to stay at home.  You certainly realize how going to Mass on Sunday really sets you up for the week.

During his homily, Fr. Jonathan reflected on the apostles being sent forth on their mission.  Bishops send their priests forth on new missions when they relocate them to a new parish.  We have to have faith and follow God’s will to go where we are needed.  Even when it feels challenging to leave self behind, we have to trust and look forward to what God has planned for us.  Easier said than done, huh?

So it’s sad to have said goodbye, but I am excited for the people who will now benefit from Father Jonathan’s encouraging words.  And I know that God will certainly bless him for sharing his faith.  Life can feel scary with all the changes and disruptions in our lives lately.  But God loves us, He has a plan, and no matter how crazy the outside world may seem, we need to focus on the big picture, share our faith, and stay on the path that leads us to our final goal- eternal life in Heaven with Jesus.

 

Note: this photo was taken on Easter a couple years ago, before the church was repainted, and before social distancing was a thing.  Sadly, I don’t have any recent photos of our church to share.

Spot On With Spoxxy

I’ve been guilty of buying a pattern, but not printing and sewing it right away on more than one occasion.  Silly, I know!  The racerback look is popular, cute, and probably why I hesitated on sewing one up.  I’m not a fan of my bra straps showing, strapless bras aren’t really comfortable, and I don’t own a well fitting racerback bra.  That sounds so silly, especially when you consider how many Brazi’s I’ve made.  But here’s the thing- all the Brazi’s I make for myself have been hacked to have straight straps because I don’t like straps near my neck.  My daughter likes the cross back Brazi, and tracing the pattern in her new postpartum and nursing size is on my agenda for today.  Anyhow, the Spoxxy sat unprinted in my computer for a few months.

Then I saw someone post a Spoxxy made as a nightgown on the Stitch Upon A Time Facebook page, and quickly decided to make myself one!  Who doesn’t need some new nightgowns after a few months of social distancing at home?  Not that I lived in nightgowns, hahahahahahaha!  😉  Who am I kidding?  I put on shorts and a tank top to go for walks and thoroughly enjoyed being comfortable in a nightie the rest of the day.

Since this was “just going to be a nightie”, I used some lightweight rayon spandex that I found at an estate sale.  And of course I end up loving the look and want to just keep it as a dress!

Spoxxy front

Look at that grin on my face- I couldn’t stop smiling because it’s just such a cute, comfortable pattern.  The racerback fits well, and the bands don’t bunch up where the upper back meets the gathered body.  Which is a problem I have seen on similar styled patterns by other designers.  I thinks it’s the angle of the cut?

Spoxxy back

The smooth curve of the racerback, the gathering at the back, and the over all shaping of the dress is quite flattering.  The pattern calls for a band at the hip for the top version, and elastic at the waist for the dress version.  I contemplated adding the waist elastic, but since the shaping hits perfectly at the natural waist and flares out to skim the hips, I didn’t see the need.

Spoxxy laugh

After I sent my daughter a photo of my dress, she commented that she needs some comfortable dresses that she can nurse in.  So Mama dug through her stash and found bits of charcoal and gray rayon spandex that were just big enough to piece together a color-blocked version for her.  Due to fabric constraints, I had to add a seam to the bottom section center back, but it’s still quite wearable and fun.  I don’t have any modeled photos of her yet, since it takes a while for packages to get to another state.

Spoxxy gray Obviously, I need to make myself a few more Spoxxy dresses and/or nightgowns because the fit is just so spot on!   Using a more substantial weight of rayon spandex (rather than the flimsy estate sale stuff I started with) will make it even better with improved drape and recovery.

So, the next time you notice an unused pattern sitting in your computer, print it out, and sew it up!  Or give the Spoxxy a try, and see if you end up with a happy smile like me!

Spoxxy hand

 

This post may contain affiliate links.  This means that at no extra cost to you, I may receive a small commission if you purchase through my link.  As always, I only give my honest opinion.  After all, it is my blog, which represents me! 🙂  Thank you for reading and sharing my love of sewing, fabric, and patterns. ❤

 

 

Shorts Or Swim Trunks? How About Both!

Sewing For Men, Episode 3

My husband isn’t often interested in patterns, or in being my model for a pattern test. 🙂  He did however, really like the line drawings for the new GreenStyle Motion Athletic Shorts.  Since he basically lives in athletic shorts, he was more than happy to let me sew them for him!

The Motion Shorts are designed for stretch wovens, with an optional liner layer made in 4-way stretch fabric.  The front pockets are deep and large, so no matter how big your phone, there’s plenty of room for that, and all the other stuff guys tend to carry!  The curved back gives shaping and is quite flattering on the booty.  And the side and back panels give an opportunity for contrast fabric and pretty top-stitching.

Motion back

The liner layer can be made of mesh for a traditional swim trunk style, or Supplex or other compressive fabric for support for working out.  I chose to use nylon/spandex tricot so Dan can wear his shorts for workouts and swimming.  Moisture wicking, quick drying fabric is key when making swim or workout wear.  I use the same Phee Fabrics tricot for my swimwear and dresses, and he’s lucky I had this khaki steel color in my stash and used it for him, rather than the dress I had intended to make with it! 😉

Motion lining

After I made the first pair of shorts, he requested that I add a “hammock hack” to the liner layer, so that they would fit like ready-to-wear Saxx, and all the underwear I make for him.  No problem sweetie, I can do that! ❤  Powernet is the fabric of choice for the gusset hammock, just as it is added to bras and swimwear, because of its supportive nature.

The hammock is a partial moon shape, with the straight edges toward the center, and the curved edges sewn to the center panel of the liner layer.  After cutting out the mirror image hammock pieces, I do a tight rolled hem on the straighter side of both pieces.  If you don’t have a serger, you can also use cotton swimwear elastic tautly stretched and zig-zag stitched to the straighter edges.  Lay the hammock pieces on the lining center panel and pin along the curved edge.  Then baste along the sides and across the top with a zig zag stitch set at 2.5 or 3.0.  Then stitch the dart at the bottom of the center panel.  Snip the top of the dart up to, but not through the stitch line, and press the seam open.  Then baste it in place.  Notice how having a larger curve on the hammock piece, compared to the curve on the center panel gives the wearer space to tuck everything in?  (I’m trying hard here to be descriptive without being too descriptive if you know what I mean!)  This is a family friendly blog!

Motion gusset

At this point, the center panel can be sewn to the liner pieces as per the pattern tutorial, and the shorts can be completed.  Here’s a photo of the inside of the finished shorts.

Motion gusset complete

The pattern has options for 5″, 7″, and 9″ inseam lengths, which is great because they can be customized to fit your needs.  Dan prefers the 7″ inseam, because he doesn’t like longer shorts that get caught on his knees when he’s working out.  If I were making myself a pair, I’d choose the 5″ length.  And yes, I tried his shorts on.  I’d need a smaller size, but they were pretty cute on me too!  The pockets are so much bigger than any other shorts I’ve made, so who wouldn’t want that?

Motion pocket

They are flattering from every angle, and I am so excited that the beach has reopened so we can go for walks along the shore again.

Motion right side

And no photo session with a guy is complete without plenty of silly poses for your viewing pleasure! 😉

Motion guns Motion buff

Obviously I need to make him a few more pairs, because he is loving the look!

I used stretch twill from Phee Fabrics as the main fabric, with a scrap of (no longer available) reflective chevron as a fun accent.  It’s funny how making them out of all one fabric color gives them a dressy look, while using an accent fabric gives them a more sporty look.  And I know that I’ve found a winning pattern when he starts asking me to customize and hack it for him! 🙂

 

This post may contain affiliate links.  This means that at no extra cost to you, I may receive a small commission if you purchase through my link.  As always, I only give my honest opinion.  After all, it is my blog, which represents me! 🙂  Thank you for reading and sharing my love of sewing, fabric, patterns, and pattern hacking. ❤

 

 

Keep It Simple & Add Some Flair

Keeping it simple sounds like a great idea right about now, during a time of uncertainty.  And I (mostly) have been!  My days are filled with sewing, cooking, cleaning, spending time with my husband, prayer and reflection, and texting and FaceTiming family.  Like most people, I also probably spend too much time reading about the virus, watching TV, and on social media. 😦  So it’s time to get back to writing about sewing and patterns and fabric and all the other things that make me happy! 🙂

There were some chilly days here in Florida last month, so I decided to make the Pattern Emporium Keep It Simple Babe Tee shirt.  Patterns with lots of options can be overwhelming and wonderfully useful!  The Keep It Simple Babe has high and low square necks, high and low round necks, boat and crew necks, turtlenecks, and a V-neck.  And everything from cap to long sleeves, so there are definitely options.

Since Florida is hot most of the year, tank tops make up a good portion of my wardrobe.  But there are chilly days, so a long sleeved tee is a practical make.  Super soft rayon spandex is my favorite fabric for tops and flowy dresses, and I had enough of this turquoise from Phee Fabrics in my stash to make the long sleeved tee.  The sleeves are slim enough to stay in place when pushed up to 3/4 length, but not feel too tight.

KISB Urban front

The V-neck is a good depth, not too high or too deep, and the neck-band came out perfectly.  The bodice skims over the body and doesn’t cling or show off the fact that I’ve probably eaten too many cookies while staying “safer at home”!  The Keep It Simple is a solid pattern choice.  Now for the Flair!

I had a small bit of Cozy French Terry left after sewing some fuzzy slipper socks for my sister, and managed to squeeze a pair of shorts on the fabric.  The Pattern Emporium Urban Flair Pants are one of my favorite pants patterns.  There are three leg width options and I chose the wide leg version to make a pair of basic black pants a couple months ago.  I love them!  They are super comfortable, the back darts smooth over the booty, and other than adding length I didn’t need to alter the pattern at all!  If you’ve ever sewn pants, that is saying something!

Urban Flair pants

So that’s why I decided to use the pattern to make a pair of shorts.  I marked the pattern to give me a 5-1/4″ inseam, and cut the legs straight across.  Since I was using scraps, I had to cut the pockets out of rayon spandex, and used Supplex and the rayon spandex for the waistband.  Supplex makes great waistbands, because it has excellent recovery.  So instead of folding the waistband pattern piece in half, I hacked it to have an inner waistband of Supplex, and an outer waistband of rayon spandex, so it would match the pockets.  I slightly contoured it, and added a seam allowance so that the finished waistband would be the same height as the pattern called for.

waistband

It’s a fun accent, and worked out great.  I will say that it’s imperative to use a substantial weight of rayon spandex.  Flimsy rayon spandex won’t hold the weight of your phone and will get stretched out of shape.  This is 13oz. rayon spandex, the same as I used for my tee.  My phone easily fits in the generously sized pockets, and the shorts are super comfortable.

KISB Urban pocket

More shorts are definitely on the agenda, along with more walks along the beach!

KISB Urban side

Both patterns were great additions to my collection, and I’m glad I bought and made (more of) them.  I hope that you are doing lots of sewing, and enjoying spending time communicating with the people you love.  So keep it simple, give yourself some grace, and don’t forget to add a bit of flair and fun to your life! ❤

 

Baby Gowns With Fold-Over Cuffs

I’ve been sewing a summer wardrobe for my granddaughter, because sewing pretty things brings me joy while we’re all under “safer at home” orders.  I texted my daughter to see if she needs any baby gowns for Lila’s soon-to-be-arriving baby sister, and if so, what size she needs.  Since she only has one newborn gown, and a couple of 3 months size gowns, newborn gowns are definitely on her need list!

It would have been easiest to buy a baby gown pattern, but where’s the fun and challenge in that? 🙂  Hacking the Patterns for Pirates Wee Lap Tee into a gown was simple enough.  Adding 12-3/4″ to the length of the tee, and angling the pattern out from the bottom of the armscye, to 6″ wide at the bottom of both the front and back pattern pieces worked perfectly.  I also curved the bottoms up slightly at the side seam.

WL pattern

To keep baby from accidentally scratching herself, (and to keep tiny fingers warm at night) fold-over mitten cuffs were needed.  So I cut the sleeves at the normal hem cut-line and hacked some cuffs to add to them.  You need two pieces of fabric 5-3/4″ high x 2-3/4″ wide, and two pieces 9-3/4 high x 2-3/4 wide.  (The direction of greatest stretch is across the width.)  Use 3/8″ seams to construct the cuffs, rather than the 1/2″ called for in the Wee Lap Tee pattern.

To assemble each cuff, fold the 9-3/4″ high piece (the pink fabric) in half, wrong sides together, lining up the 2-3/4″ ends .  Lay it on top of a 5-3/4″ high piece (the flamingo fabric) that is right side of fabric up (but with the print upside down if using a directional fabric), aligning the 2-3/4″ ends at the top, like below left.  Then carefully fold the bottom of this sandwich up, until it lines up at the top, and pin the sides, like below right.

WL cuffs step 1

Stitch along the two pinned sides.  When you turn the cuff right sides out, the seams will be completely enclosed inside the cuff, and the mitten can be folded back as a cuff, or folded over like a mitten.  It’s almost magical when you try it! 🙂

WL cuffs sewn

Follow the pattern tutorial for basic construction, except you will need to sew the side seams and then set-in the sleeves, rather than sewing the sleeves in flat.  Personally, that is how I always sew sleeves, because I think set-in sleeves are easier and cleaner.  Keep in mind that it’s easier to sew the tiny cuffs to the sleeves, by leaving the sleeve right sides together after sewing the sleeve seam.  Slide the cuff inside the end of the sleeve, carefully quartering and pinning it in place.  You may have to wrangle the sewing machine foot inside the cuff, and slowly sew it on.  But the finish is so much more professional than having an unfinished edge on a basic cuff sewn on flat!

WL gowns top

I also chose to finish the neck edges by binding rather than banding.  But that’s because I now have a cover-stitch and seem to be binding everything I sew! 😉  I played around and did a reverse triple cover stitch on the neckline of the flamingo gown, using a variegated thread in the looper.

It was fun to try different methods of finishing the bottom of the gowns.  The white and teal striped gown was finished with a band.  It’s super important to use a fabric with excellent recovery if you want to do a band.  The main fabric was some old interlock from my stash, with poor recovery, so I knew I would need to use fabric with great recovery for all the finished edges.  I chose teal nylon spandex tricot from Phee Fabrics for the cuffs, binding, and band on the gown, and it worked out perfectly.  The 2-1/4″ high, by 13″ wide strip was folded in half, and the short ends sewn together to make the band.  The band was folded wrong sides together, and carefully pinned to the bottom of the gown at the quarter and eighths points, then sewn.  The band really needs to stretch to get the bottom evenly gathered.

The flamingo gown was finished with elastic at the bottom, stitched, then turned under and top-stitched.

The pink gown was finished with an envelope flap.  Mostly out of necessity because I didn’t have enough fabric! 🙂  The front was cut out as normal.  The back was as long as I could make it.  So the rosebud print fabric was folded in half, then half the opposite way, then the balance of the gown back bottom (plus seam allowance) was cut out.  The gown front was hemmed.  One end of the rosebud extension piece was sewn to the gown back, and the seam top stitched.  The other end of the extension was slightly gathered with elastic to keep the envelope flap from being floppy.  Then the elastic was folded under and top-stitched.

To complete the envelope bottom, with the gown back right side up, fold the back extension piece up, so that it is right sides together.  Lay the gown front on the gown back, right sides together, and stitch the side seams.

envelope seam

When you turn the gown right sides out, the seam will be enclosed inside the back extension.

WL bottoms

It felt good to use up the old cotton interlock fabric in my stash that really isn’t useful for anything other than baby and children’s clothes.  The stripe, pink, and rosebud fabrics are super old, and I couldn’t begin to tell you where they were purchased.  It’s pretty likely that the stores they came from are no longer in existence!  The flamingo fabric came from JoAnn Fabrics a few years ago, so you may still be able to find it in their Doodles line.

I hope that you are finding joy while sewing through your fabric stash, and using patterns you may not have tried before.  Being able to make something beautiful for someone who truly needs it makes me happy.  I hope that sewing to help others is making you happy too!

I Wish We Could All Be Going Places

In these unprecedented times, when virtually the entire world is under “Safer At Home” orders, it is surreal to look back to a month or two ago when most of us led what now feels like rather carefree lives.  It’s important to remember the beauty and joy of life, increase our faith, and do useful things that make us happy.  Sewing is certainly one of my happy places!  Except when I have to seam-rip because I’ve done something silly, like sew the front and back right and wrong sides together. 😉  Which happened, by the way.  Fortunately I had only sewn part of the way up the side seam before I realized it!

The Pattern Emporium Going Places Dress was the perfect pattern to sew at this time.  Florida is already quite warm, and dresses are a staple in my closet.  There are multiple neckline options from ballet to babe, and high and low square necklines.  And the dress can be fitted or flared.  I chose the deeper babe neckline and love the fit of the flared skirt.  Having a fitted bodice is quite figure flattering, and the skirt flares out at the perfect place so that it skims and shapes the waist without being tight across the midriff.

The neckline and straps can be finished with bands or binding.  But let me tell you- once you have the ability to cover-stitch, binding is just as easy as bands, and looks so beautiful!  I’m becoming more comfortable with using the cover-stitch feature of my machine, and am absolutely loving the results!  It just looks so professional and is so much faster than top-stitching with my old sewing machine.

Going Places binding

I used rayon spandex from Phee Fabrics for my dress, and it is the perfect weight and drape for dresses.  And tank tops.  I literally make all my tank tops out of Phee’s rayon spandex, and a good portion of my dresses.  It’s safe to say that this is one of my favorite fabrics!

Going Places strut

So, is there anything that I would change the next time I make this pattern?  I think I’ll make the back bodice one size smaller.  Yoga class has given me a pretty decent back taper, and the back is little looser than I need.  I also think I’ll widen the back straps just a smidge.  While the straps cover my bra straps quite well, my “old lady” bras widen out before meeting the back band, and the straps of the dress don’t quite cover that area.   The Going Places Dress is a pretty quick sew, doesn’t take a lot of yardage, and is definitely worth adding to your pattern collection!  The square neckline option is next on my list.

To complement my dress, I made the Pattern Emporium Songbird Kimono & Cardi.  I own several cardigan patterns, and bought this one specifically because it was designed for woven fabrics.  I found some chiffon at an estate sale for a really good price, and thought it would make beautiful cardigans.  While I love the two cardigans I’ve made, let me tell you, sewing chiffon is not for the faint of heart!

Using chiffon is like trying to cut, pin, and sew a cloud!  It’s a bear to try and get it to lay flat and smooth and not get wavy and distorted when you cut it out.  You have to use so many pins to try and hold everything in place while you’re sewing.  The fabric is so fine that pins tend to slide right out as you handle the fabric.  And it frays, badly.  So a serger is almost a necessity when sewing chiffon.  That being said,  I absolutely love the result of my efforts!

Going Places & Songbird

It’s flowy and fun, and looks great with a dress.  This is the first of the two Songbirds I’ve made, and I sized down for the second one.  I have long arms, and added two inches of length to the sleeves, but certainly could have gotten away with just an inch.  I’ve worn my Songbirds with a T-shirt and skirt, long-sleeved shirts and pants, and dresses.  I’ll certainly throw them on with a tank top and shorts on chilly evenings or in air conditioned spaces.

Here are my tips for sewing with chiffon.  Take your time.  It takes time to smooth and even out your fabric.  Use all the pins.  It really helps to keep the fabric from shifting as you sew.  This also means that by necessity you have to sew more slowly to ensure that you pull the pins before accidentally sewing over them!  Because chiffon is super flowy and has no body, you may want to add some body in certain areas.  I used knit interfacing (specifically Pellon SK135 Sheer-Knit fusible interfacing) to stabilize the band.  I chose this interfacing because it is sheer, and wouldn’t be visible through the chiffon.  I cut the interfacing half as wide as the band, and carefully lined it up with one edge of the wrong side of the fabric to press it on.  Follow the manufacturers instructions and use a pressing cloth!  Even a paper towel works to help keep the residue from getting on your iron.  Just be sure to peel it up as soon as you press a section so that it doesn’t stick to the interfacing.  And enjoy trying new patterns, techniques, and experimenting with a new look.

Songbird outstretched

Embrace life, and enjoy every moment of laughter and silliness!  And sew a little happiness, while we stay at home rather than Going Places! ❤

 

Itty Bitty & Not So Itty Bitty Baby Dresses

My granddaughter needs play clothes for the summer, since she’s outgrown pretty much everything from last summer.  Toddlers grow fast!  So my daughter gave me some tops and dresses to upcycle.  They were all XS or small, so children’s clothes would be about all that would fit on the fabric.  I chose three coordinating fabrics, and got to work.

Using my rotary cutter, I trimmed along the side and sleeve seams, and ripped the clothes apart.  A seam ripper was necessary to remove hems and binding as needed, to be able to lay the fabric out smoothly.  It certainly would have been easier and faster to use yardage, but it was fun to think creatively how to fit my pattern pieces and make it all work.

I’ve made a couple of Made By Rae Washi Dresses blogged here, but hadn’t tried any children’s patterns.  This is my latest (and favorite!) Washi Dress, made with a beautiful Art Gallery Fabrics border print called Roads to Flowerhouse.

teal Washi

While scrolling through the Made By Rae children’s patterns, I came across the Itty Bitty Baby Dress.  It’s designed for wovens, but I knew that it would work to use knit fabrics.

The pattern calls for a simple gathered skirt, trimmed with bias tape.  Since I was upcycling, had limited sized pieces of fabric, and had found coordinating fabrics, I decided to make a three tiered skirt instead.  For the Itty Bitty Baby dress, instead of the suggested 9″ high rectangles of fabric, I cut my top strip 3″ high, and the second and third tiers 3-1/2″ high.  Each tier was gathered and sewn to the tier above it, then the skirt was sewn to the bodice as per the pattern directions.  Newborn sized clothes always look so cute!

Itty Bitty dress

There also happens to be an expanded size of the pattern in a size 3, which is the size my two year old granddaughter is growing into.  It’s made the same way as the Itty Bitty newborn size, and it too got hacked to have a triple tier skirt.  Instead of the suggested 15″ high skirt panels, the top tier was a 4-3/4″ high strip, followed by 5″ high strips for the second and third tiers.  The toddler skirt is a bit more gathered, since Lila likes to run and play and climb and move.

Bitty expanded

Since the dresses were already bright and colorful, I thought that it would be fun to use variegated thread to cover-stitch everything.  That’s the funny thing about having the ability to cover-stitch.  You go a little crazy and fun and play around with it.  On the toddler dress, I used a reverse triple cover-stitch to accent everything.  To lessen the scale, I chose a narrow reverse cover-stitch for the newborn dress.

The Bummies pattern is from Brindille & Twig, with a ruffle added across the bum for a little extra fun.  Because I already spend too much quality time with my seam ripper, I just couldn’t bring myself to rip off the leg bands that I accidentally sewed on inside out. So I just reverse cover-stitched over the seam allowance, and turned it into a “design element”!

Bummies design element

 

Admittedly, these outfits are super bright and a bit wild, but that’s what makes them so fun!  Normally, I wouldn’t post without modeled photos, but with the current state of the world, I don’t know when we’ll be able to visit our daughter and her family.  Hopefully before the new baby is born!  And this is as good a way as any to share that I’m going to be Grandma to another little girl!  🙂 ❤

Do you have some unworn clothes in your closet that could be turned into fun fabric for little ones?  Consider upcycling them into to something new.  There are so many cute patterns to try.  And it’s fun to sew for my soon-to-be itty bitty baby, and not so itty bitty girl.

Stay well, and sew something that makes you happy!

 

 

Tempo Athletic Tights

How I Upcycled, And Made Them Capri Length

The fun curved details of the GreenStyle Tempo Tights finally made me break down and try a pair.  🙂  When they first released, I resisted because there wasn’t a capri option, and it is hot in Florida.  I wear capri length tights to workout year round.  As a creative sewist, I knew that I could get the length that I wanted, without sacrificing the curved insert at the bottom of the leg.

For my first pair, I decided to do some upcycling, and use a couple pairs of ready-to-wear leggings that were just taking up space in my drawer.  So I carefully cut them apart by using my rotary cutter along the inner leg seam, and up the center front and back seams.  With the fabric smoothed flat, I laid the side panel pattern piece on the capri length striped material.  I aligned the center fold of my pattern with the industrial cover-stitched seam that was down the side of the old workout pants, and left the existing hem in place.  Since the upcycled leggings had been capri length, I just folded up the bottom of the pattern to mark the length.

Tempo fit pattern

Then I used the fabric from a second pair of similarly dismantled leggings to cut out the front and back panels, as well as the bottom leg inserts.  Matching up the seam lines of the bottom inserts with the seam lines at the bottom of the side panel, I folded the insert pattern piece at 1″ longer, to give myself room for a hem (since my side panels were already hemmed).

Then I followed the pattern tutorial to stitch everything together.  I also had my first go at reverse cover-stitching.  It’s definitely not perfect, but it was fun to practice a new skill at hopes of improving.

Tempo front

Tempo back

The look is fun, it kept two old pairs of leggings from being tossed or donated, and assured me that the fit was right.  So I grabbed my Phee Fabrics black Supplex and got to work.

For my second pair I wanted an even shorter capri length, ending just below the knee.  This was going to require more alteration than just folding up the bottom of the pattern!  I took my side panel pattern piece, laid it on my master pattern (I always trace my patterns on waxed or parchment paper, and keep my master pattern intact, in case I need to make changes or grade sizes) and slid it down 4-1/2″, being sure to keep straight on the grainline.  Then I traced the bottom curves in this new location.

Tempo capri adj

Using a compass, I traced a line 3/4″ inside the curve, to give me the alignment for a new custom bottom insert.  Since the original bottom insert is designed for your lower leg, it won’t fit up higher on your calves.  But it was simple to lay a piece of parchment paper on my pattern, follow my drawn inner curve, and trace the side and bottom to match up.

Tempo insert adj

Then I just cut along the outer curve and folded the pieces under in case I want to make the longer length next time.  Can you tell I don’t want to have to trace the pattern again? 🙂

The tights would have been a faster sew the second time, if I had remembered that I wanted pockets, and didn’t have to seam rip to add them in instead of accidentally skipping right by that first step. Ugh!  Oh well, pockets are totally worth it!

Tempo black

It is notoriously difficult to see details on black fabric.  I love the length, I love the pockets, and I love the black powernet inserts at the bottom.

Tempo black angle

Which I of course tried to photograph with a fun yoga move. 😉

Tempo inside leg

And my reverse triple cover stitch has greatly improved!  Using the curve foot makes sewing the curves so much easier.

Tempo black close

So, do the Tempo Tights beat out the Super G‘s in my workout wear drawer?  The Tempo Tights have a simple triangular gusset, which is fine for daily wear, or workouts that don’t involve major stretching.  Although I like the look and the variety, nothing beats the comfort of the Super G gusset for yoga, my preferred workout.   So, should I hack the Tempo Tights to use the Super G gusset?   Hmmmmm… that could work!

In case you’re wondering, the turquoise top is the GreenStyle Staple Tank, which is truly a staple in my closet!  I have made at least 5 of them, all in Phee Fabrics rayon spandex, and I wear them all the time.  The white workout top is a hacked GreenStyle Jillian Tank, blogged here.  The purple top is a GreenStyle Power Sports Bra, hacked into a workout top, and blogged here.

 

This post may contain affiliate links.  This means that at no extra cost to you, I may receive a small commission if you purchase through my link.  As always, I only give my honest opinion.  After all, it is my blog, which represents me! 🙂  Thank you for reading and sharing my love of sewing, fabric, patterns, and pattern hacking. ❤

How Are You Starting This Lenten Season?

During Bible study this week, we got off on a bit of a tangent.  This is not an unusual thing, 😉 as we almost always run a bit long due to one discussion or another!  When our  study first started, I used to feel a little impatient when we would get off subject, because I wanted to focus on what we were studying that week, what we were “supposed to” learn.  As the weeks went by, I realized that these off topic conversations were also helping us grow.  Sometimes it was a question about our faith, sometimes it was a personal story, sometimes it was noting how God touched our lives, or the lives of someone we know.  The discussions gave everyone the opportunity to learn more about  others in our group, have questions answered, and the impact that we, as Catholics, can have upon our world.

This week, our study started off with a conversation about Lent.  Which is quite fitting, since today is Ash Wednesday, the beginning of Lent.  We all know that Lent is a time of prayer, fasting, and almsgiving.  A penitential season to prepare for the joyful Easter season.  Prayer, fasting, and almsgiving are ways to help us grow in self-control.

When you think about it, a lack of self-control is what can lead us into sin and unhappiness.  Sometimes we let anger dictate our actions, then end up saying or doing things that we regret.  Learning to bite your tongue, and not lash out in anger is a valuable skill set!  Taking a moment to collect your thoughts so that you can have a conversation and calmly discuss what is on your mind generally leads to a much better outcome.  Whether we struggle with food, alcohol or drugs, casual sex and the “hook up” culture, gossiping or lying, or any of the other vices, we can work to increase our self-control, and overcome the addictive behavior.

We may enjoy snacks or sweets, or just plain struggle with the desire to eat more than what our body needs.  I tried a toffee recipe a couple of weeks ago, and it turned out so perfectly delicious!  Dan is not really a fan of toffee, so of course that left me to eat all of it.  As I finished up the little container last night, I knew that I had consumed far too much sugar.  My body didn’t feel great, and it was a great reminder that I need to have more self-control.  Despite how great it tasted, I definitely shouldn’t have eaten all that sugary, buttery, chocolate deliciousness.

It’s a wonderful example of the struggles we all face with over-consumption.  Whether we love shopping for shoes, or playing violent video games, or listening to music with demeaning lyrics, or watching movies that are truly a waste of our time and brainpower.  Whenever we use “any means necessary” to win a game or a promotion, no matter who gets hurt in the process, we are really hurting ourselves, and our relationship with God the most.

That is why we have a conscience, to remind us when we’re straying down a path we shouldn’t be on.  We don’t have to be like everybody else, to not speak up about something we know is wrong, out of fear of “offending” someone.  That is not to say to be mean or judgemental.  But we can be a reminder of goodness.  We can let Christ’s light shine through us.  We can pray for, and exhibit, and encourage others to use self-control.

Lent is a wonderful opportunity to pray, reflect on our faith life, to really focus on self-control and grow in prayer, and in our relationship with God.  How are you starting this Lenten season?  Would you like to join me in working on self-control?  I encourage you to go to Mass, to seek out the sacraments, to fast and abstain, to read The Bible and join a Bible study, to take advantage of this opportunity to increase your faith.