The Little Black Dress And 5 Ways To Style It

How To Play Dress-Up As An Adult

 

Every girl needs a “little black dress” in her closet.  It’s that basic wardrobe piece that you can reach for again and again.  If it’s a simple design, all the better because you and how you wear it will be what stands out, rather than a “trendy” design.  Packing for a trip?  Throw it in your suitcase and you can wear it for all sorts of things without taking up all kinds of space.  Not that I would know anything about over-packing!  😉  Ahem!  Anyway, let me tell you what I used to make my LBD and we’ll get on with the fashion show!

A LBD should be something you can wear year round, so a comfortable fabric that won’t overheat you is a must.  I chose rayon/spandex because it is soft and light-weight.  High quality rayon/spandex is key though, because the cheap “big box” fabric store stuff will wrinkle and pill and cling to you in all the wrong places.  The rayon/spandex from Phee Fabrics is 13oz., much more substantial than standard and with great drape.  I used the Women’s Mya pattern from Made For Mermaids.  It is a great pattern with the perfect amount of shaping and flowiness.  It’s slightly fitted at the bust, but not too form-fitting on the rest of your body.  If you choose a pattern and fabric that flatters your shape, you end up with a little black dress you will wear for years!

summer dress

 

 

Headed to the beach?  Picnic in the park?  Or just running up to the grocery store?  You’ve got the perfect summer dress!

 

 

 

 

 
biz dress

 

 

Headed off to work?  Meetings and business travel?  Throw on a jacket and low heels and you’re ready to go.

 

 

 

 

 

 

cardi dress

 

Is there a chill in the air?  Did you say snow?  Boots and a cozy sweater are the way to go!  This sweater is a ready-to-wear, but there are so many cute cardigan patterns out there, not to mention Polartec, that sewing a cardigan or two is definitely on my to-do list.

 

 

 

 

                                                                                                                                                            evening dress

Cocktail party?  A hot date with your love?  Killer heels and pearls, and your little black dress has you covered.  I have to say that this was my husband’s favorite look.  When your husband good-naturedly agrees to be your photographer for a blog, you’ve got to like it when he gives you a whistle when you ask him to take your photo!  This look had me feeling fierce!

 

 

 

 

dress tie

 

Ready for the weekend?  Tie off your LBD at tunic length, add some leggings, slide on some flats, and layer on a shirt.  Casual and comfortable at it’s best!

 

 

 

 

 

 

It was fun to play “dress-up” and ham it up with all the different looks.  Suffice it to say that I will wear this dress a LOT.  What’s your favorite way to style a little black dress?

summer dress1biz dress1cardi dress1evening dress cutedress tie1

Grandma For A Year

There’s nothing like being a Grandma!

There is nothing like being a Grandma.  I’ve always heard people say that and wondered what they meant by it.  I love being a Mom.  We were blessed with great kids who are truly wonderful people that we always enjoy being around and spending time with.  So of course I would love being a Grandma, as it’s our baby’s baby.

Dan and I were fortunate to be at a stage in our lives that allowed us to be close by at the crucial time.  We had sold our house in Michigan, and hadn’t yet found a new home in Florida.  So we rented an apartment for three months that was about 12 minutes away from our daughter and son-in-law’s home.  We were able to help with some last minute baby preparations, and to be there with Jennifer through 3 days of labor.  The excitement of our granddaughter’s birth was topped off when I finally got to hold her in my arms.  Her warmth, her smell, her soft baby skin, still covered in birth fluids.  My heart was overflowing with love.  first time holding Lila

I made breakfasts and dinners, and cleaned and did laundry, and waited impatiently for my share of baby snuggles.  Baby Lila wormed her way deeper and deeper into my heart.  The daily visits ended when we moved back to Florida.  But I am so grateful that we had the opportunity for that early bonding time.

We fly up for visits every month to six weeks or so, and Lila is always happy to see us.  We’ve watched her mature and grow, and seen the milestones and developing talents in person, in photos, and via Facetime.  It cracks me up how she tries to reach out through the phone or iPad to touch us.  The first year has flown by.

When Jennifer started planning Lila’s first birthday party, I was hoping that Lila would be able to wear the dress Jennifer wore on her first birthday.  Unfortunately, there is a stain on the front of the dress that I don’t think will come out after 30 years!  Since I like to sew, I knew I could make her something pretty to wear instead.

Jennifer chose a “She’s a wild ONE” jungle theme for the party and I instantly knew what fabric I was going to use.  I had ordered the palm print leaf matte nylon/spandex from Phee Fabrics intending to make a dress for myself.  But I hadn’t decided on the perfect pattern yet, so the fabric was stashed and waiting for me.  I thought it would be fun to make something for all three of us to wear on the special occasion.  I also thought that I had three yards of fabric stashed, but in reality only had two.  Yikes!

That ruled out the possibility of making dresses for all three of us, so Lila got a birthday dress, and the two of us got tanks.  I have made my daughter tank tops before, and have three different patterns cut out in her size.  Her favorite seems to be the Patterns for Pirates Essential Tank, so I chose that for her.  Its flattering, simple, yet shapely design is also great for layering, so I knew she would be able to wear it year round.  I debated between the Essential Tank and the Made for Mermaids Women’s Mya pattern for myself.  I decided on the Women’s Mya since it’s a bit roomier, I knew it would be a busy day, and there would be snacks and cake involved!

The birthday girl’s dress needed to be flowy and pretty and work with a knit fabric.  Jennifer and I both liked the Ellie and Mac Be Dreamy dress, but I had a few concerns.  Since Lila is a busy baby and a beginning walker, a floor length dress was out of the question.  The high-low hemline is cute, but still not practical for a one year old.  So it had to become a knee length dress.  This would be an easier fix if they lived close by and I could compare the pattern to her and her other dresses to judge the fit.  But she doesn’t, so I had to work off measurements. “No longer than seventeen inches” was the answer I received to “How long from her shoulder to hemline?”  So I overlapped my pattern pieces by the seam allowance, measured down from the shoulder, added a hem allowance and drew my new hemline.

Now to fit all these pieces onto only two yards of fabric!  I always take my time with pattern layout and cutting.  Everything needs to be perfectly on grain, and I hate wasting fabric.  Talk about your fussy cutting!  Fortunately, the palm leaf fabric is a true 60″ wide, so I was able to cut all the pieces facing (what I considered) upright on the fabric.  Since the leaves go in all different directions, it isn’t an obvious directional fabric and I could have made life easier by flipping things to fit, but that’s not how I roll!

The tank tops and dress sewed up easily, if slowly, since I just use a basic Brother sewing machine.  I like to finish my neck and arm band seams with my machine’s overcast stitch, followed by topstitching to get a clean, professional look.  (Someday I’ll get that fancy Babylock serger/coverstitch on my daydream wishlist!) 😉

The full circle flutter sleeves on the Be Dreamy dress were my other concern.  They needed to be light and fluttery, and preferably out of a solid, since the underside of the fabric shows.  Jennifer didn’t want to mix in a color with the palm leaf print, so that nixed the circular knit and tricot I had on hand.  My solution was white powernet.  I always use it to add support to the bras and workout tops I make, but it’s a versatile fabric.  I’ve added powernet side panels to workout capris, and have an idea percolating for a top with powernet insets.  Since it doesn’t fray, careful cutting with my rotary cutter was all the finish the fluttery sleeves needed.  I carefully tacked on some organza ribbon rose trim around the bottom of the bodice and along the hem and the birthday dress was complete!

Let the “She’s a wild ONE!” party begin!

plate napkinparty foodhostessG G Lila cakebirthday cupcakecupcake bite

There is indeed nothing like being a Grandma!  Lila fills my heart with joy and is a spectacular gift from God.  Her big blue eyes with mile long lashes, her laughs and saucy little grin, her backward waves, and heart-stopping desire to walk up and down the stairs, the way she practically runs while pushing her walker, and her undeniably fun personality all combine into one beautiful bundle of wonder that has completely stolen this Grandma’s heart.

Happy 1st birthday Lila!  I love you! Grandma Lila

 

 

Sewing for Men

Man Up!

Do you sew for the men in your life?  I used to sew cute shirts, shorts, and pants for my son when he was little, but haven’t made him a thing in over 25 years.  I made my husband a bathrobe a good 15 years ago, but that’s it.  I sew for myself and my baby granddaughter all the time, and have made quite a few things for my daughter.  But the men in my life seem to get left out, until now.

I decided it was time to let them be the beneficiaries of my makes.  Since my husband now funds my fabric and pattern budget 🙂 and tolerates all the time I spend sewing, he deserves something nice.  My son was kind enough to help me finish setting up my website (as I am definitely not a technogeek) and deserved a reward for his help and patience.

So I decided to make my husband and son Sinclair Patterns Men’s Kai Tee Shirts out of Phee Fabrics rayon spandex.  Wow!  Normally I am not a fan of rayon spandex.  It’s not that I don’t love the softness of rayon spandex, but generally speaking it is not a fun fabric to work with.  It’s thin and flimsy.  It gets all wrinkly.  It stretches and gets bagged out of shape.  It’s slippery and a pain to sew.

Since I really like Phee Fabrics and have always been impressed with their quality, I decided to give their rayon spandex a try.  Wow!  It is so much nicer than your typical rayon spandex.  It’s way more substantial (13 oz.), has beautiful recovery, doesn’t come out of the dryer as a wrinkly mess, and even makes great bands on your tees.  I am using their rayon spandex for all kinds of makes now!

My next question was what pattern to use?  Some of my favorite “go-to” pdf pattern companies have shirt patterns, but most of them seem to be raglan sleeve styles.  Also, my son is tall, and my husband is not.  It’s not that I’m not used to having to lengthen patterns, since I am tall, but really, who wants to use their precious sewing time having to adjust their pattern?  Enter Sinclair Patterns.  Their patterns come with height options!  Regular, Tall and Short.  How amazing is that?  So I bought, downloaded and printed off the Men’s Kai in Tall and Regular.  Traced off my husband and son’s sizes and got to sewing.

J KaiD Kai

The shirts came together quickly and easily, and the neckband lengths in the pattern were perfect.  I don’t know about you, but I always wait until I have my shoulder seams sewn together to cut my neckbands.  I measure the opening and calculate the appropriate length, and frequently have to make longer bands than a pattern suggests.  It drives me crazy, but I have been burned too many times by a tight, gathered looking neckband to trust most patterns.  The Kai pattern neckband was perfect on both sizes.  It makes me confident that I will have the same success with their other patterns.

Kai biceps Kai side

 

All that was left to do was photograph my makes.  Getting my guys to agree to be photographed took a minute, but they had fun at my quick photo session.  And I snuck into a selfie, since who wouldn’t want to be photographed with these two cuties?  So give new patterns and fabrics a try, I don’t think you’ll be disappointed!  Happy sewing!

Kai group

Sew What’s in a Name?

Name That Cardigan

I mentioned in a previous post that I wasn’t chosen to be a pattern tester for 5 out of 4’s new cardigan pattern.  But guess what?  I got to name the pattern!  How cool is that?  They had a cardigan naming contest in their Facebook group, so I entered it.  You never expect to actually win a contest, because face it, hundreds or thousands of other people have entered the contest too.

But lo and behold, the name I submitted was picked!  I suggested The Eleanor Cardigan because cardigans are comfy and cozy, and doesn’t Eleanor make you think of a sweet Grandma or Auntie giving you a big hug?  Alas, my Grandma’s are no longer around, and neither my Mom or any of my Aunties live nearby.  But I can still cuddle up in a comfortable cardigan!  (And I can always get a hug from my sweet husband!)

So be sure to check out The Eleanor Cardigan  (women and girls versions) from 5 out of 4 Patterns https://5outof4.com/ on October 2, 2018 when it releases!