Waimea Rashguard & Bottoms And The Stained Glass Effect

Playing with the coverstitch can really elevate and add depth to your garments

Let’s start with the GreenStyle Waimea Rashguard. I never buy or wear raglan sleeve tops because they never seem to fit right. Every time I try on a RTW raglan style, it rides up and chokes me and the sleeves never fit properly. But GreenStyle patterns are so well drafted that I figured I would give it a shot. Wow! Color me impressed! The sleeves are actually shaped to fit your shoulders. Because it fits your shoulders, it doesn’t ride up and cut into your neck.

Had I been making the top as an actual rashguard, I would have followed the pattern precisely, and used the wider neckband. That would give maximum sun protection as the pattern intended. But I like to play with patterns, and make them for the way I plan to use them. So I tried the top on, and the neckline fell right about at the cross on my necklace before adding the band. Since I just wanted a casual top, I cut the front neckline an inch or so deeper than the pattern, and used binding instead. This leaves the neckline more open, which suits my casual wearing perfectly.

I love the cap sleeve option. It makes the perfect summer top whether I throw it on over my swimsuit or pair it with shorts or a skirt.

The (optional) fun curved hourglass design lines on the front and back offer the perfect opportunity for color-blocking and having fun with your coverstitch. I decided to go all out with coverstitching, and tried a new technique. I knew I wanted a variegated look so my top would match whatever bottoms I wanted to pair with it.

When I first bought my machine and took the “get to know your machine” orientation, I recall the instructor mentioning that if you didn’t have variegated thread, you could use two threads in your chain looper to get a more colorful variegated look. We didn’t try it, but apparently I filed this tidbit of information in my head. I’m sure there are places to buy fancy and fun variegated blends, but I tend to buy my thread from wawak.com when they have cones of MaxiLock serger thread on sale. My favorite and most used variegated thread is called tie dye punch. It’s colorful and multicolored, and yet not the traditional red, yellow, blue, which is just too stark for me.

Although tie dye punch is pretty, it doesn’t lean purple and teal enough for me. And that’s when the filed away thought of using multiple threads in my chain looper came back to me. My plan was to accent the top with a reverse triple coverstitch, which means that I would stitch with the top inside out, so the needle threads would show on the inside of the top, and the looper threads would show on the right side of the fabric. Here’s how I set up my machine:

Can you tell I don’t have a dedicated sewing room and sew at my dining table? 🙂

I put the tie dye punch on the chain looper spool, and set the other two cones (MaxiLock teal, and SureLock purple) on the table just below the looper spool. All three threads went through the thread stand and were fed through the chain looper threading path like normal. I used a thread cradle when autofeeding them through the looper, just like you would when using a thicker thread. To get a “stained glass” look, I used black thread in all three needles. I used Babylock curved foot C to make it easier to sew the curved shapes, and played around on fabric scraps to ensure that I liked the look. Glancing at my practice scrap, I’m kind of impressed at the tight curve near the top of the fabric. Using the curve foot (and having the wide bed space between the needles and the machine) really does make it easier to maneuver tight curves!

I love the fun stained glass effect that using multiple threads achieved!

It’s such a fun look, that I had to play with it some more! The Waimea Swim Bottoms got a similar treatment on the pockets. Since I used black nylon spandex tricot for the bottoms, I changed my thread choices a little bit when coverstitching them. They’re still accented with a triple reverse coverstitch, and again I used tie dye punch variegated thread, along with the purple and teal in the looper. But this time instead of using black thread in all three needles. I used black for C1 and C3, and purple in C2, just for an extra punch of color.

It’s so fun to personalize your swimwear!

How fun is it to have pockets on your swim bottoms? If you’re walking the beach you can easily carry a key or credit card and your phone, and not have to worry about carrying a purse. Of course if you’re a Mom or Grandma, your pockets are likely to get filled with little shells and rocks and some snacks! 🙂

As with every swim bottom pattern I make, I personalize the leg line to suit my body. I don’t like a low leg line, as it’s not flattering on my shape. So I put the bottoms on before adding leg elastic, and carefully pin along the joint at the crease line of my legs. I trace the line of the pins onto my pattern piece to mark my preferred finished leg line. Then I add the 3/8″ seam allowance for the elastic, and trim off the excess fabric. It gives me a beautiful leg line every time!

Can you even take swimwear photos without the obligatory hair flip? 😉

Front to back, I love that I challenged myself to try a new style, that I have some new swim bottoms, and that I played around to create a fun stained glass effect coverstitching look that I know I’ll use again!

I think the hourglass design on the back of the rashguard is quite flattering. And it gave me even more opportunity to coverstitch!

Do you need a rashguard or cute raglan top in your life? And really, who doesn’t need swim bottoms with pockets? 😉 The details:

The Waimea Rashguard has cap, half, or long sleeves. There are two cropped lengths with banded bottoms, as well as a regular full length top. It can be colorblocked or just seamed with fun hourglass shaping, or left solid.

The Waimea Swim Bottoms have pockets and a high or low rise, and an elastic or a foldover waistband.

I used rayon spandex for my casual version of the top, and nylon spandex tricot for my swim bottoms. If I were making the top as an actual rashguard, I would have used the nylon spandex tricot for its UV protecting abilities. All fabric was purchased from Phee Fabrics.

GreenStyle also carries fabric, but I haven’t tried it yet.

Links to GreenStyle and the Waimea patterns are 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 creating, sewing, patterns, fabric, thread, coverstitching, and making beautiful well-fitting garments! ❤

From Lounge Dress To Sexy Dress

Pattern Hacks And Serger Tips For The GreenStyle Valerie Dress

When the GreenStyle Creations Valerie Dress was first released, I put off buying it. I don’t know why, since 2020 was definitely the year for lounge wear! 🙂 Now that I’ve whipped a couple of them up, I’m really wondering why I waited! It’s a comfortable, flattering dress that can transform from lounge wear, to beach cover-up, to throw-it-on-and-run-to-the-store, to pretty enough to wear to church.

The shaped seamed back gives a flattering, comfortable fit that is so much nicer than a sloppy, boxy T-shirt. It has sleeves ranging from cap to long, but of course I chose to go sleeveless. #floridalife The curved hem (a shirttail hem) gives a more casual look, so I chose that and the scoop neckline for my first make of the pattern.

Talk about comfortable! This immediately became my new favorite nightgown and got worn to bed that evening. And worn around the house the next day while sewing. Surely I’m not the only one to sew in my lounge wear? Be honest, you know you’ve done it! 😉 I chose to bind the neckline and armscyes rather than do bands just because I can.

Use the same length for binding as recommended for your band, but only cut your strip 1″ high. Stitch the short ends together and quarter and pin the binding to the neckline right sides together. When you serge the neck binding on using the normal 3/8″ seam allowance, with your stitch width set at M, your machine will trim 1/8″ off. Press the seam allowance up, and wrap the binding around to the inside, pinning in place. Then top-stitch or cover-stitch it in place. It’s a super easy, yet professional looking (although technically faux) binding finish.

Windy days make taking photos a bit challenging!

People sometimes get nervous about hemming a curved shirttail hem, with memories of past wonky, wrinkly, bunched up hems. But it really isn’t hard if you do a couple of things. First of all, don’t sew with fabric that doesn’t have “recovery”. Generally speaking, this means it contains spandex/Lycra. When you stretch your knit fabric out, it should come back to its original size. If the fabric stays in a stretched out shape, it’s a sign that the fabric is going to grow and hang oddly and unflatteringly. Just don’t waste your time with it. Secondly, the Valerie pattern has a nice gradual curve not sharp turns, which makes it easier.

And here’s the most important tip: serge along the hemline on the right side of your dress, using a 4 thread overlock, stitch width of M, stitch length of 2 to 2 and a quarter, with your differential turned up to 1.3. This does two things. It gives the hem stability so that it won’t stretch out while top or cover-stitching. It also very slightly brings the edge in a bit. Then when you pin the hem in place, you won’t have excess fabric bunching up. You’ll just have a smooth beautifully curved hem.

Smooth curves and no weird bunching, it’s magic I tell you! 🙂

One Valerie dress led to another… as in the very next day I decided I needed another one! To change things up, I did a mash and a hack. Mashing the Valerie with the Staple Tank was a no-brainer, since the Staple Tank is my most used tank pattern. Simply layer your Valerie pattern with your Staple Tank pattern, matching the natural waist markings. Then trace the Staple Tank bodice merging it into the Valerie body .

This photo led to my next tweak, further pattern grading.

A seasoned sewist has learned and understands the importance of grading. But a new sewist is likely to be a bit nervous about the idea. You mean I bought a pattern and it’s not going to magically perfectly fit my unique body and shape? What??? Okay, the possibility exists that it will fit you perfectly well, at least as well as your basic ready-to-wear. But the more you sew, the more demanding you become about getting the best fit possible. And the first step towards that is measuring and grading. Pattern companies include a measurement chart in the tutorial, and it’s important to look at them.

You may be tempted to say well, my bust falls into size x, and my waist and hips are size z, so I’ll just make size y. Depending on the ease of the garment, it may fit. But it will likely be a bit large on your shoulders, and the top or dress may ride up because it’s a little too snug across the hips. Personally, I like when patterns include an upper bust measurement, as well as a full bust measurement. My bust is fuller than average for the frame of my body. So if I choose a pattern size based on my bust measurement, it’s likely to be too wide across my shoulders, which leads to bagginess above the bust, with the excess fabric digging into the front of my armpits. Super uncomfortable and not an attractive look. So I generally trace a smaller size above the bust, grading out to my bust size below the armscye. If my hips measure on the edge of two sizes, I generally grade out to the bigger size to give myself more room for the booty.

Grading to fit your curves leads to a curvy sexy fit.

All of this is pattern dependent of course, but on a more fitted style like the Valerie Dress or Staple Tank, it’s super important to grade. Some people get all fancy using a french curve to grade their patterns. Since I don’t own one, I just draw gently curved lines from one size to the next. Think hourglass curves rather than straight lines when going in or out on sizes.

Using the lower scoop back of the Staple Tank really changes the look of this dress.

You kind of get a hint of my side vent hack in the photo above. Since I was doing the straighter hem on this dress, I thought it would be fun to add some side vents. I marked the sides of the front and back pieces 4″ up from the hem, and made a 3/8 ” snip.

Apparently it’s time to buy a new marking pencil, since I’m working with just a pencil stub! 🙂

Serge from the snip to the hem, along the bottom raw edge, up to the snip on the other side, on both the front and back.

Serging the edges makes it easy to get a clean finished hem.

Then follow the pattern tutorial for assembling the dress. When sewing the side seams together, be sure to fold the lower vent area out of the way when serging off the snipped edge. Tuck your serger tails, and press the vents to either side and cover stitch. Then pin the hem up and coverstitch. You’ll end up with beautifully finished side vents.

I could have made the vents 5 or 6 inches long and still felt comfortable.

I love the look and fit of this hacked, mashed dress! It’s comfortable, and kind of sexy, while still looking classy. In fact I wore it to Mass on Sunday with one of my Sunday Cardigans.

It was hard to stop grinning in a dress that made me feel confident and pretty!

Here’s the takeaway: grade to fit your body; don’t be afraid to mash the Valerie with one of your favorite patterns; side vents are fun; and try my serger tips and tricks. The details: both the emerald and navy dresses were made with rayon spandex purchased at Phee Fabrics.

So, which version should I make next? I’m thinking I need to try the V-neck!

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 creating, sewing, patterns, fabric, and making beautiful well-fitting garments! ❤

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. ❤

 

 

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! ❤

 

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! ❤

 

Lila & The LLK Kensington Dress

I did a bit of Christmas sewing, making microwavable bowl cozies for my Mom, siblings and family, and adult children, making a total of (I think) 22 cozies by the time I was done.

bowl cozies

We use our cozies all the time, whether cooking broccoli or oatmeal, or keeping our fingers from freezing while eating a banana split.  Not that we do that often, really! 😉

bowl micro

I also sewed a few things for Lila. ❤  I thought the Little Lizard King Kensington would be a cute dress, but I had to make a couple of alterations.  My daughter dislikes buttons.  She has disliked them since childhood.  Which presented quite a challenge when trying to find the collared shirts required at their elementary school!  (I didn’t have time to do much sewing back then).  So, she didn’t want Lila’s dress to have buttons.  Which meant I had to alter the pattern to use a zipper.  It wasn’t really hard to do.  I just found the center point of the back overlap, and instead of using the button placket, I reduced the width of the bodice back to just having a 1/2″ seam allowance.  I had cut only one skirt panel the width of my 45″ fabric, and put the seam at center back.

This meant that rather than following the pattern tutorial, after attaching the collar and bodice lining at the neckline, the skirt had to be gathered and sewn to the bodice.  The zipper was installed (ending about 3″ down into the skirt).  Then the bodice lining, (which I had pulled up out of the way while installing the zipper) was sewn down into place.

LLK porch

The most challenging part of the pattern was the scalloped collar.  It wasn’t that it was hard to do, just very time consuming.  The scallops on a size 2 are rather tiny!  I took my time, and very carefully trimmed and clipped each scallop so that it would lay neatly when it was turned and pressed.

Another important consideration when using a fabric with an obvious pattern to it, like this Art Gallery Fabrics Evanescence Blackout, is to take your time when laying out your pattern pieces.  For a professional finished product, the design needs to line up and be evenly spaced.  Notice that the darker “stripe” going across the collar is the same on the left and right?  I also took care when cutting the skirt and bodice to ensure that the almost plaid-like design was evenly spaced where they meet at the waistline.  The print doesn’t have perfectly straight lines forming an even plaid.  It’s more of a pretty graphic design and loosely drawn and wavy grid pattern.  Although I tried to get the sleeves as perfectly aligned, the right sleeve lines up better than the left.  Oh well, perfection escapes me again!  Hahahahahaha!

At least my granddaughter is perfect, and perfectly adorable! 🙂

LLK yard full

And a bit of advice for photographing toddlers: always bring snacks.  Everybody is much happier when there is food in their tummy!

banana

Lila also got a rayon spandex dress, trimmed in stretch lace, hacked from the Ellie & Mac Grow With Me Pajamas.

LLK flat lay

I cut a strip of the stretch lace to half the width, and added it at the bodice to skirt seam line.  I shortened the skirt to make it dress length, and gently curved the hem so that it would hang nicely when on the body.  After gathering the lace (about 2-1/2″ yards worth), I zigzagged it onto the hem.  Lila likes the orchid color, and the soft, breezy comfort of the dress.

EM grow pj

It’s such a comfortable play dress, that she just didn’t want to stop swinging for photographs.

swing

It didn’t take long to whip up a couple of Made For Mermaids Hadley Hand-Tied Bows, and attach them to hair clips for a finishing touch.  Maybe I’ll make one of the larger bow sizes next time.  After all, Lila is a little southern belle!  😉

Hadley bow

She is also fun to sew for, and pretty much looks adorable in everything I make for her!  Now I need to sew up a couple more patterns for this sweet girl. ❤

The bowl cozies (link to tutorial here), Kensington dress, and bow, were all made with Art Gallery Fabrics 100% cotton purchased from Phee Fabrics.  The 13oz. rayon spandex was also purchased at Phee Fabrics.

Thank you for reading and sharing my love of sewing, fabric, patterns, and pattern hacking. ❤

Wrap Up A Holiday Outfit

Do you attend fancy Christmas parties that involve dinner, dancing, and drinking adult beverages?  Or do you prefer a simpler setting that includes sweatpants, eggnog, snuggling your kiddos and pets, and perhaps a Hallmark Christmas movie (or two)?  I used to really enjoy attending the fancy fun parties, because other than a wedding reception, how often do you get to dress up, enjoy a nice dinner and dance the night away?  But I also enjoy the simple (and sometimes noisy, chaotic, crazy, and wonderful) days or evenings gathered with family and friends.

Either way, I like to feel comfortable in what I’m wearing.  There aren’t any super fancy parties on my schedule this year.  Just a couple of gatherings that are sure to include delicious food, conversations with people I love, and the normal fun and silliness that ensues whenever people get together.  So I decided to make a fun wrap top, that could also work as a cardigan.

The first step was choosing comfortable fabric.  I strongly considered using Phee Fabrics nylon/spandex Tricot.  It would be a great choice- it has a pretty drape, excellent recovery, and would give the top a more elegant look.  But in the end I went with Rayon Spandex for a softer, more cozy feel.  Because of the more substantial 13oz. weight, the drape is beautiful, and even the white isn’t sheer.

The Joanne Faux Wrap Dress & Top by Sinclair Patterns easily became an actual wrap top.  I love the fit of my Joanne dresses (blogged here), and knew that I wanted to make a top version.  With a little bit of customization, it was easy to make my vision come to life.  I wanted the peplum to be a bit longer than designed, so I traced the peplum front and back pieces on my size for width, and followed the lines for the largest size for the length.  Since Sinclair Patterns come in Petite, Regular, and Tall, all you may need to do is print the Regular or Tall version of the peplum pieces to get extra length.

bow

A true wrap top needs nice long ties.  I cut four pieces at 2-3/4″ high, by the 60″ width of the fabric.  I also cut strips of knit interfacing 2-1/4″ high, and ironed them onto the wrong side of two of the tie pieces.  After laying an interfaced and a non-interfaced tie piece right sides together, I trimmed one end at an angle.  I used the markings on my quilting ruler to get a perfect 30% angle, but you can use whatever angle looks good to you.  Then stitch along one long side, along the angled end, and back along the other long side using a 3/8″ seam allowance.  (I know the pattern uses a 1/4″ seam allowance, but my sewing machine prefers 3/8″!) 🙂  Turn the tie right sides out and press, and repeat with the second tie.  Do you want to know my trick for helping to push the long sides of the tie out in order to press them?  A yardstick!  It really made it easier to press and not worry that the fabric was still folded inward.  An interesting thought occurs to me.  If you live where the metric system is the common form of measurement, I suppose it’s not called a yardstick.  Is there such a thing as a meter-stick?  Go ahead and laugh, I might bother to google it later.  Or not.

The basic construction of the top is the same as the pattern tutorial, except the pleats, and the side seams.  Sew the shoulder seams together,  then sew on the neckband and top stitch.  Without overlapping the two front pieces, stitch the front and back bodice together at the sides, starting at the armscye, and stopping 2-1/4″ from the bottom.  Stitch the bottom 1/4″ of the seam.  Repeat with the other side seam.  Cut four pieces of interfacing 2-1/2″ long by 1/4″ wide.  Press the interfacing within the seam allowance of the bottom side seams of the bodice on the wrong side of the fabric.  This will help stabilize the open slits on the side seams when the seams are pressed open.  Press, then top stitch around the slits.

Insert the sleeves, being sure to put the back of the sleeve toward the back of your top.  (The pattern piece is clearly marked.)  Sew each peplum front and back together at the side seams, and attach the peplum to the bodice, leaving 1/4″ unsewn at either end of the seam.  This will allow you to turn the peplum under 1/4″ at the ends for a clean finish.  Now for the trickiest part of the top, the pleats.  Basically, you need to accordion fold 1″ wide sections, leaving the band at the top free, and leaving an extra 1/4″ at the bottom to fold under.  I kind of gently spread the folds a little bit, so that the folded section ends up two inches wide.  Baste.

wrap attach

With right sides together, pin just one layer of the tie to the basted bodice pleat.  You’ll have to carefully get your presser foot inside the end of the tie to stitch the tie to the bodice.  Clip your threads and flip the tie out.  Fold the raw edge of the tie under and pin it in place, being sure that it covers the seam line.  Then stitch in the ditch to secure the back side of the tie.  Repeat with the other tie.  Hem your sleeves and the peplum and your top is done!

Joanne wrap angle

I love that the long ties allow a bigger bow for an extra bit of drama.  I like that since it’s a true wrap, I can throw it on over a dress or top as a cardigan.  The extra length in the back gives me a little more coverage and looks great with a slim skirt.

Joanne wrap back

The high low look of the peplum just seems to dress it up a bit.  But being made out of soft rayon spandex, it would look just as great worn with some joggers.  No matter what I wear it with, it’s super comfortable, and is a great way to wrap up a holiday outfit.

Joanne wrap hair

In case you’re wondering, my skirt is the Shenanigans Skort by 5 out of 4 Patterns, made in Supplex.  This simple style, that’s just long enough, made in a stretchy, smoothing, moisture-wicking fabric is a comfortable basic for your wardrobe.

Have you wrapped up your holiday outfit?

 

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 I “Prettied Up” A Play Dress

I love sewing clothes for my granddaughter!  First of all, since she’s a growing toddler, she always needs clothes.  Secondly, since children’s clothes are small, they’re generally a pretty quick sew. 😉 And thirdly, they usually don’t take too much fabric.  Sometimes I can get away with using the larger leftover scraps of fabric from previous sews, which is what I was able to do here.

I bought a yard of the Cozy French Terry from Phee Fabrics to make Lila some joggers and a cardigan.  They turned out cute, and she wore them the day we flew up to visit.  I had a bit of the French Terry left, and thought a sweatshirt dress with a woven skirt would make a cute, comfortable play dress.  It turns out that I didn’t have enough French Terry for the sleeves, so I turned to my trusty rayon spandex for the sleeves and neck band.  Remember my Made By Rae Washi Dress blogged here?  There was just enough of the Art Gallery Fabrics 100% Premium Cotton left from my dress to make the skirt.

The Stitch Upon A Time Wendybird Dress (aff link) recently jumped into my cart the last time they had a pattern sale, so I couldn’t wait to print out the pattern.  Since there was only enough of the Art Gallery cotton left to make an 11″ long by 45″ wide rectangular skirt, I lengthened the Wendybird bodice by 2″.  Although the skirt fabric is a floral, it’s not in overly girly colors, so I decided to “pretty up” the dress by adding a ruffled placket.

To make the placket, I cut a 1-3/4″w x 4″h center base out of rayon spandex.  The two inner rayon spandex ruffles are 1-3/4″w x 8″h.  The two outer AGF cotton ruffles are 2-3/4″w x 8″h.  The center French Terry ruffle is 3/4″w x 5″h.

WB placket pieces

To make the double ruffles, fold the outer cotton ruffles in half lengthwise, right sides together, and stitch along one short end.  Fold the inner rayon spandex ruffles in half lengthwise, right sides together, and stitch along one short end.  Clip the corners, being careful to not cut through the stitching line, turn the ruffles right sides out and press.  Lay an inner ruffle on top of an outer ruffle with the cut sides and finished ends aligned.  Sew a long basting stitch with a 1/4″ seam allowance, and pull the bobbin thread to gather the ruffles.  Repeat with the other double ruffle.

Fold the bottom edge of the center base under 1/4″ and baste or use Wash Away Wonder tape to keep the fold in place.  Lay a double ruffle on the center base right sides together, with the finished edge of the ruffle toward the bottom.  Stitch along the side with a 3/8″ seam allowance.  Press the ruffle to the outside and repeat with the other double ruffle.

Next we add the center ruffle.  Because the French Terry won’t fray,  the edges are left raw.  Run a basting stitch down the middle of the center ruffle, and gather it to fit the placket base.  Keeping the center ruffle 3/8″ away from the top, zig zag down the center of the ruffle to stitch it in place.

Mark the center front of the bodice with a pin.  Use tailor’s chalk, or a washable fabric marker to mark the ruffle placket placement, which should be a rectangle 1″ wide by 4″ high.

WB mark

Line the ruffle placket up at the top of the neckline and with the markings, and top-stitch around the center base to secure it to the bodice.  Baste the unfinished edges of the double ruffles in place at the neckline.  Sew on the neckband as per the pattern directions, being sure to catch the top of the double ruffles and placket in the band.

WB placket

To make the skirt, cut two 11″h x 22-1/2″w (I would have preferred 12 or 13″ high, but that was all the fabric that I had!) panels out of the AGF cotton.  Place the panels right sides together and stitch along the side seams.  Press the bottom up 1/2″, and another 1/2″ and stitch the hem.  You can run a long basting stitch around the top of the skirt to gather it, but since it’s being sewn onto a knit bodice, I like using cotton swim elastic to gather.  Measure the bottom of the bodice, and cut the elastic to that length.  Overlap the ends of the elastic 3/4″ and zigzag to form a loop.  Use a pencil to mark the quarter points of the elastic.  Mark the centers of the skirt front and back, and they and the side seams will be the quarter points of the skirt.  Line up the quarter points of the elastic along the top of the skirt, and stretch the elastic to fit as you zigzag it in place.  It should gather the skirt to fit the bodice perfectly.

WB flat

With the skirt inside out, slide the bodice down inside the skirt, right sides together, matching side seams and center points.  Sew the bodice to the skirt, then give everything a good press.  Ta dah!  A simple play dress turns into a pretty, party-worthy dress!

Since Lila only recently turned two, she doesn’t attend a lot of parties.  But she is always ready to run and play outside, picking up sticks and leaves on her way to and from the park.

WB dress sticks

And I love that she is able to play outside in nature nearly every day.  I hope that she never forgets the joy and wonder of exploring, learning new things, and playing every day.

WB dress oh

WB dress up

When you’re done sewing, don’t forget to go for a walk, and enjoy the fresh air and sunshine.  Maybe you’ll find some sticks to play with too! 🙂

Thank you for reading and sharing my love of sewing, fabric, patterns, designing, and creating. ❤

 

Sinclair Joanne Faux Wrap Dress & Top

Twirly dresses just make me smile!  As does Sinclair Patterns newest release, the Joanne Faux Wrap Dress & Top.  This is one of those patterns that I will make again and again.  The drafting is just so good.  It was obvious during testing that the design was a winner, because after sewing it up, I had to struggle to think of anything that I would change.  The only thing I could think of was to have the wrap swoop a little lower to get under the bust easier without causing pulling at the side seams, and that I would be comfortable with the skirt being an inch or two shorter.

Joanne1 angle

Other testers struggled to find anything to critique as well.  The dress just looks so good on everyone!  It will be hard for you to see the differences in my periwinkle dress (version 1) and my blue dress (version 2).  Very subtle changes were made to deepen the pleats a little bit so that the crossover was a smidge shorter at the side seams, and the skirt was shortened an inch or so.  There is also a midi skirt cut line, so if you want a longer skirt you’re good to go.   I literally couldn’t stop myself from twirling and swishing this skirt like a little girl! 🙂

Joanne1 blurJoanne full

Both of my dresses are sleeveless, because Florida is hot.  As in temperatures are still above 90*F in late September hot.  For that one month of winter that we get, I would really like to make a Joanne with sleeves.  Because there are options galore- short, 3/4, long and my personal favorite, a flounce sleeve!

Since the test went so well, Oxana (the designer at Sinclair Patterns) added a hi low peplum option and it is gorgeous!   She also added the shaped tie belt, which I love.  It really adds to the look of the dress and top.

Joanne tie

The genius secret behind having such a nice crisp bow?  The pattern tutorial suggests using knit interfacing.  If you’ve never used knit interfacing before, it’s a little different than the interfacing you use for woven fabrics.  It’s an open weave knit, so it still has some stretch, and you just iron it on the wrong side of your fabric.  Except you absolutely have to use a pressing cloth, or you will be spending some time cleaning your iron, and could ruin your garment with glue residue.  Due to the open weave of knit interfacing, the glue will spread when heated, and if you don’t use a pressing cloth, the sticky glue will get all over your iron.  Obviously, I am speaking from previous experience here! 🙂  The first time I ever tried it, I spent some quality time cleaning my iron after realizing that yes, you should read the directions included with your interfacing!  Here’s my pro tip: If you don’t have a pressing cloth, use a paper towel.  You will have to kind of peel your paper towel up after pressing, but the residue won’t come through the paper towel and it didn’t leave any paper fibers stuck to my belt.

My other tip for sewing is the same as I mentioned for the Sinclair Yasmin Dress blogged here.  Small pieces of Wash Away Wonder Tape are great for holding your pleats in place.  I also used a strip of Scotch Tape to ensure that they stayed in place until the side seams were stitched.

wonder tape pleatsscotch tape pleats

The Joanne is a pretty quick sew, and with all of the options, it’s bound to be a staple in my closet!  I’m envisioning a black or white rayon spandex hi low peplum top because it would go with literally everything!  And of course a couple more dresses!

Joanne sideJoanne back

I know I’m gushing, and probably oversharing photos, but the fit is great whether you look at it from the back or side.

Joanne1 twirl

I am grinning in every photo, and twirling in most of them.  It’s pretty obvious that I love this pattern!  During the release sale is the perfect time to buy the Joanne Faux Wrap Dress & Top pattern, as it is on sale for $7.99 through Wednesday September 25, 2019.  I hope you’ll check it out, and share photos of your makes!

I used Rayon Spandex from Phee Fabrics for both of my dresses.  It’s a substantial 13oz. fabric and works perfectly for this (and every other tank, top, and dress) pattern I’ve ever used it for.  The drape is perfect, and it has enough recovery to make excellent bands.

 

This post may contain affiliate links.  This means that at no extra cost to you, I may receive a small commission/credit if you purchase through my links.  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, patterns, and fabulous fabric. ❤

 

Sinclair Yasmin Dress

A Few Tips For Simpler Sewing & A Peplum Hack

I was super excited when I was chosen to be one of the testers for the Sinclair Patterns Yasmin V-neck Dress with pleated accents.  I love dresses, and wear them all the time.  And let’s just say that the pleating and detail in this dress spoke to me.  When I saw the line drawing and tester call I immediately filled out the tester application!

Sinclair Patterns are rather unique in that their patterns come in petite, regular, and tall.  No more having to add a couple of inches to a skirt or dress so that it is long enough to wear without worrying about showing more leg than I want when bending, or climbing in and out of a vehicle.  Armscyes that are actually deep enough.  All the things that a tall sewist has to constantly adjust on a pattern are already figured out for you!

When you sign up for a pattern test, you’d better have some fabric on hand.  Testing obviously moves along quickly, so you need to be prepared to print and tape your pattern together, trace your size, cut your fabric, and get sewing.  Luckily, I had ordered some of the new rayon spandex ribbing from Phee Fabrics, and was smart enough to have ordered 3 yards.  I have a bad habit of usually only ordering 2 yards or less of a fabric, and when you are tall, that is not enough for a dress with a full skirt!  The ribbing has a luxurious feel, a pretty ribbed texture, and beautiful drape.  I knew it would look great sewn into a Yasmin Dress!

Call me brave, call me crazy, but I am not one for using cheap fabric for muslins.  Cheap fabric is generally a polyester blend, ewww!  I don’t like the feel of it, it’s unlikely to lay as nicely as quality fabric, it’s generally a pain to sew with, and it’s probably not going to be substantial enough or have adequate recovery for the type of clothing I like to sew, so I just don’t bother with cheap fabric.  That being said, you do run the risk of wasting nice fabric when you test.

This is the first time I’ve tested for Sinclair Patterns, and I have to say that I am very impressed with how thorough Oxana is.  She asked for our thoughts about the pattern before we even started.  I mentioned that I was interested in a sleeveless dress, since Florida is warm most of the year.  Other testers also commented that they would wear a sleeveless dress.  She added a sleeveless cut line to the pattern.  She asked for honest input and made changes as needed as tester photos and feedback came in.  Another thing you’ll notice about Sinclair Patterns is the way the garments are finished.  Just look at how pretty the inside of the bodice and waistband look.  The shoulder seams and waistband are enclosed, and the neck has a neat interior banded finish.

Yasmin inner back

The pattern itself isn’t hard, but the pleats are a bit time consuming.  Don’t worry- the tutorial is thorough, and I’ve got some tips to make the pleats a little easier.  Here’s my first tip: print the bodice front in just the size that you need.  I generally don’t print in layers, preferring to print all sizes of a pattern in case I want to grade sizes, or make the pattern for my daughter who is a much smaller size than me.  You need the pleat markings to be precise in order to get even pleats.  And when you’ve got lots of markings in 12 different sizes all in one general area on a pattern, you need to narrow things down!  So trust me when I say to print the bodice front in just one or two sizes if needed.

Tip number two: Wash Away Wonder Tape is your friend.  You still need pins to mark your pleats, but putting a tiny piece of Wonder Tape for your pleat to fold over and stick to, makes things easier.

Yasmin pleats

Tip number three: Scotch tape is surprisingly helpful.  Of course I didn’t figure this out until I sewed my second bodice and thought, “Hmmmm….I wonder if a piece of Scotch tape will hold the pleats better than the pins did so that I can keep the pleats even while sewing?”  The answer is YES!  It (and the Wonder Tape) definitely kept the pleats perfectly spaced and even while I sewed the bodice to the waistband.

Yasmin tape

Tip number four: Powernet is an awesome fabric.  If you follow my blog, or read my posts or comments on the Facebook sewing groups I belong to, you know that my love for Phee Fabrics powernet is strong.  It is supportive in bras, workout, and swim tops, makes a great accent on workout tops and tights, and has magical tummy smoothing powers in waistbands and swim bottoms.  It is recommended to use an athletic fabric for the inner waistband pieces of the Yasmin to help support the weight of the skirt, and lend stability to the waistband.  Since the Supplex I have on hand is destined for workout wear, I decided to baste some powernet to my waistband to give it the necessary support.

Yasmin powernet

Use plenty of pins to keep everything aligned, and sew with the powernet facing up.  I don’t know if I’ve mentioned that before, but when helping someone who was struggling a bit with powernet, I realized that some people may not even consider fabric stretch when they sew.  Generally speaking, you want anything smaller, or with less stretch on top while sewing, such as powernet, elastic, bands, or when easing pattern pieces together.  If your larger piece or stretchier fabric is on top, your presser foot will tend to stretch it out even more.

Summer in Florida is the rainy season.  But it will usually rain for a short time, and the sun comes right back out.  Not this week!  It rained for two days straight as I sewed, and rained all the next day as I waited to take photos of my dress.  Finally, the rain slowed down to a slight mist, and the sun started to peek out from the clouds.  My dress was all pressed and ready to go, so we quickly drove to the beach for some photos.

Yasmin frontYasmin back

The rain may have stopped, but there was plenty of wind to whip my skirt around!  I love the pleats at the shoulders and under the bust, and how the V-shaped waistband gives nice definition.  I used the gathered version skirt on my dress, and love the drape and comfortable ease of this dress.

Yasmin hipsYasmin back US12

Since I still had some time before the pattern released, I decided to make the other skirt option.  Apparently I need to order some fabric, (says every sewist and fabric hoarder 🙂 ) because I didn’t have enough fabric for a knee length skirt, let alone a midi length.  So I decided to try a peplum.  I NEVER wear peplums.  But the flare of the skirt really spoke to me, so I had to try it.  I dug through my fabric and found scraps of floral that sort of matched the bit of rayon spandex and ribbing I used for the bodice and waistband.  I marked and cut the skirt at 13-1/2″ from the waist, and used a 1″ hem.  A smaller hem would be easier on a curved skirt, but I was just guessing at the length when I hacked the skirt into a peplum.  If I were short, I’d probably make the peplum 8-9″ long, and would probably cut it at 12″, no more than 13″ for my tall self next time.

Yasmin peplum frontYasmin peplum backYasmin peplum twirl

It’s such a fun look that I couldn’t help but twirl!  And I’m branching out and trying a new style of top.  That’s one of the fun things about sewing, sometimes you end up with a surprising, unexpected new style in your wardrobe.  Although the skirt I’m wearing is RTW, using a pencil skirt along with a peplum overlay would be another cute hack for this dress!

There are options for knee length, midi and maxi length in the gathered skirt version.  The elegant look of this pattern would look so beautiful as a maxi dress.  Since I also love the flared skirt, I guess I need to make another Yasmin Dress (or two)!  Once I order more fabric, of course. 😉

 

*Note: I recieved the pattern for free as part of the testing process.   I always participate fully when I test by submitting fit photos and commentary, offering constructive feedback on the fit, process, etc., comment on other testers posts, noting any fit issues, and applauding beautiful work, and filling out the survey to try and help ensure that the pattern fits well, and the tutorial is easy to understand and follow.

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 links.  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, patterns, fabric, and pattern hacking. 😉