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