Sewing A Sonata

Adjusting The Love Notions Sonata For A Perfect Fit

I just can’t help but be drawn to pretty woven dresses. They are light and breezy in Florida’s heat, and the structure of woven dresses generally supports pockets. What’s not to love about that? The Love Notions Sonata Dress definitely caught my eye.

Well, there are a couple reasons I rarely seem to sew them. The first being that I much prefer sewing knits. Construction seems to go so much faster. 🙂 I can sew a pair of workout leggings with pockets, some kind of panel or shaping design, inner and outer waistband pieces, and a gusset much faster! But I think the main reason that I tend to skip over woven dress patterns is because I know that I’ll need to make pattern adjustments.

I am longer than average from shoulder to bust point, and I always need to lower the armscye on woven patterns. These are relatively common adjustments, and really aren’t that hard to make, they just take a little time. If you’ve ever tried on a top or dress, and noticed that the bust dart is above, or quite high on the bust, this fit issue may apply to you too.

The Sonata Dress pattern has cup sizes, which is what really drew me to it. Depending upon the block that pattern designers use, many pattern companies tend to design for an “average” B and sometimes C sewing cup size. They only seem to venture into a D cup in larger size patterns. But the Sonata includes a D sewing cup size, which is what I measured into according to their sizing chart. I love when size charts include upper and full bust measurements, because it’s so much easier to determine what size to make.

Your upper bust measurement tells you what size to make the shoulders of your dress. Have you ever made a dress according to your full bust measurement (which is sometimes the only bust measurement on a size chart) and had it seem too wide at the neck, perhaps showing your bra straps, and with the shoulder seam overhanging your shoulders? Using the upper bust measurement will help you choose the size that fits the frame of your body.

A pattern that fits my shoulders properly makes me happy!

The pattern tutorial shows how to raise or lower the bust dart. I find it easiest to trace the front bodice pattern except for the side seam, and then slide the tracing paper up, keeping the edge of the tracing paper aligned with the center fold edge of the printed out pattern so that everything stays straight on grain. In order to know how far to slide it up, you need to measure from your shoulder (where the front and back seam intersect on top of the shoulder) to your bust point (generally the nipple area) wearing the bra that you plan to wear with the dress. Note that measurement (for instance 12″), and transfer the bust point to your traced pattern piece from the shoulder seam line (3/8″ away from the pattern edge) down that same measurement (ie: 12″). Slide your tracing paper up until your marked bust point aligns with the bust point marked on the printed pattern piece. Now you can trace the side seam and dart marking and it will be in the right spot for your body.

If patterns tend to cut into your armpit, you probably need to lower the armscye too. When I trace the lowered bust point and side seams, I need to trace the bottom half of the armscye too. Apparently I am average from armpit to waist, because if I try to stick with the original pattern armscye depth, and then trim away until it fits comfortably, guess what my trimmed away shape ends up being? EXACTLY matching the original pattern if I trace the bottom half of the armscye when I trace the lowered bust point. Gosh I would have saved myself a lot of time if I had just done that in the first place! 🙂

I love the elastic in the back.

The elastic at the back waist makes the Sonata such an easy fit. It gives the dress some shaping even if your waist doesn’t really curve in all that much. 😉 I’ll admit that I kind of cheated when installing the elastic. After sewing the bodice and skirt back pieces together with a 1″ seam allowance, you’re supposed to stitch the casing to the bodice and run elastic through the casing. My “cheat” was to stitch the 1″ seam allowance, slip my elastic in between the two layers of fabric, and anchor the two ends with a zig zag stitch. Then stretching the elastic until it lay flat in the fabric, I pinned the center, then serged along the raw edge, keeping the fabric and enclosed elastic flat and even.

Then press the enclosed elastic seam up, stretch it flat and pin it in place. Coverstitch 7/8″ from the seam line, stitching the serged elastic edge in place. Tip: it will be easier to keep a straight line while coverstitching if you mark the line with chalk or a disappearing marker before adding the elastic.

I’m always excited about having pockets.

Integrated side seam pockets are such a handy thing on a woven dress. Even when carrying a phone or car keys, your pocket doesn’t get pulled out of shape. Here’s my favorite tip for sewing side seam pockets with a serger: starting a couple of inches below the pocket, use your sewing machine to stitch up to the marked pivot point, and with the needle down, rotate the fabric and stitch around the pocket to the top pivot point. Keeping the needle down, rotate the fabric and continue stitching up the side of the skirt. Then snip the corners up to but not through the stitching line. Then when you serge the seam, you can easily straighten out the stitching line to finish the pocket edges.

Stiching, then snipping up to the pivot point makes it super easy to serge the side seam pockets.

A cute new dress with pockets? What’s not to love about that? I’m super happy that I took the time to adjust the fit and perfect the pattern so that I can make more Sonata dresses. The skirt length is a perfectly flattering above knee length. And it was totally worth the time to make matching bias tape so that my armscye finish looks as pretty as the rest of my dress.

Store bought bias tape wouldn’t match this wild fabric!

After nearly burning my fingers while pressing my hand-made bias tape, I’m thinking it would be worth spending the money to buy a bias tape maker. So, here’s to more Sonata’s in my future!

The details:

My Love Notions Sonata Dress is sleeveless, but the pattern includes short, flutter, and bishop sleeves. The neckline facing can be sewn on the outside for a fun punch of contrasting color, or inside for a more invisible look.

The watercolor floral fabric is a vintage cotton from my stash. If I had to guess by looking at the colors and print, I’d have to say I probably bought it in the early ’90s to make a dress for my daughter. I made her a lot of dresses back then, but work probably got in the way of me making one out of this fabric. Which works out well for me now. 😉

The purple facing fabric was a scrap of Art Gallery Fabrics cotton purchased from Phee Fabrics.

Thank you for reading and sharing my love of creating, sewing, patterns, fabric, and making beautiful, well-fitting garments! ❤

The Corset Look

Sewing Tips And A Fun Hack

The new Corset Bra and Top from GreenStyle Creations is so fun! The princess seaming gives it shaping, the pattern design is clean finished, and it includes small, medium, and large cup options in every size.

According to the measurement chart, I need the large cup option, so those are the pattern pieces I printed. I’m so glad that the high hip length was added during testing. It’s not like the bra length wouldn’t get used, but why hide a pretty new make? And that leads me to the corset or crop length and my rant about tankinis.

Have you ever been super excited about the idea of buying a tankini because hey, a tankini will cover more skin than a regular bathing suit top. And you’ll feel more confident in a tankini. Until you try it on. How come tankinis and crop tops look so cute on some people, but when I put one on, all it does it highlight the bit of no-longer-flat belly between the bottom of the top and the top of my bottoms? 😦 I’m sure it has something to do with the combination of my size, height, and/or body shape, but let’s get real. I’m not going to be rocking a crop top. Ever. I make and wear two piece swimsuits because they are much more flattering on my body.

Which brings me back to my excitement about the hip length top being added to the pattern. First off, I could wear it as a tankini because it’s actually long enough to cover the top of my swim bottoms. 🙂 It’s a versatile top and looks cute with Warrior Pants.

A slim, fitted top is a great contrast to flowy Warrior Pants.

I love that the straps of the Corset Top easily cover even the wide straps of my bras. The clean finish of the bra and top is so professional looking, and is accomplished by using either the included shelf bra or lining pattern pieces. The pattern tutorial has clear instructions on how to do the “burrito roll” finish. By the time you make a top or two, you’ll feel quite accomplished using the finish!

I love that my bra straps are hidden, front and back.

You can insert clear elastic in the neckline and around the arms, and it would probably be helpful if you were making a bra for the gym. In which case, I’d probably add powernet too. But since mine is just a casual top, simply upping the differential on my serger to 1.3 was enough to keep the neck and arms from being baggy. (Having the correct fit also helps!) Another tip I figured out is that if you have the main fabric on top while sewing the neckline and “burrito roll” the fabric is less likely to roll outward and show the lining. You can under-stitch if you want, but by serging with the main fabric on top I didn’t feel the need to do so.

I must have been talking with my hands when my husband took this photo.

Another thing to consider when making the Corset Bra, crop or top is that fabric will make a difference in the fit. Fabric with a lot of spandex, and excellent rebound properties will fit tighter to the body, and will be super helpful when making the bra. Fabric with a lighter weight, but still a decent amount of spandex (at least 5-10%) will be less form fitting (which may be preferable in the hip length) then something like supplex or swim fabric will be.

The flattering fit of this top makes me happy. And taking plenty of yoga classes made it easy for me to balance on the railing without falling backwards into the seagrass!

Can we just talk about the beautiful princess seaming on this pattern? It’s a great opportunity to color-block, but I really wanted to bring out the lines a different way. I figured that a reverse triple cover-stitch would almost give the illusion of boning channels, which seems appropriate on the corset style. I recently ordered some Fantastico variegated thread from Superior Threads, and I am super impressed with it! It has a beautiful sheen, and the color repeat is only one inch. That means that you get see all of the colors in the thread cycle through frequently.

I love how the thread highlights the seamlines and makes them pop!

I know a pattern is good when I start dreaming about how I can hack it. And the Corset Bra and Top was just begging to be made into a top and/or dress. I’ve seen some advertisements for knit tanks with a chiffon “skirt” and I knew that it would be an easy hack. I had made a corset length top during testing, and it was easy to trim off the bottom so that it would end at my natural waist. I find tops and dresses most flattering if the narrowest part falls at the natural waist.

Then I cut a strip of chiffon 12″ high by the width of the fabric (approximately 58″ wide). You want the width of your strip to be between one and a half to two times the width of the bottom of your top. Depending on the width of your fabric and the size you are making, you may need to cut two strips, giving you a front and a back to get the width you want. Serge the two short ends of the strip together as a side seam, then serge the bottom edge to help prevent fraying. Fold the hem up 3/8″ then another 5/8″ so that the serged edge is completely enclosed. Cover or top stitch the hem. Gather the top edge of the skirt, and match the quarter points up with the quarter points of the bodice. Baste the skirt to the bodice and adjust any gathers as needed before serging.

The simple gathered chiffon skirt gives the top a whole new look!

The fun floaty look of the chiffon combined with the fitted bodice of the Corset Top looks great over a skirt. Lengthening or adding a second (one and a half times wider) tier of chiffon would totally change the look. As would making the skirt out the same knit as the bodice. I’ve got so many top and dress ideas floating through my brain!

It’s such a fun hack!

And that’s the beauty of a pattern like this. It’s a bra, it’s a top, it’s a swim top, it’s the bodice of a dress. I’ve got some GreenStyle Power Flex fabric just waiting to be sewn into Spark Tights and a cute new workout top. It’s time to sew all the things!

The details:

The navy top is nylon/spandex tricot from Phee Fabrics. It is accented with reverse triple coverstitching using Superior Threads Fantastico #5028 Peacock Plume. Worn with Warrior Pants and Moxi Shorts.

The fully lined purple top is a lightweight nylon/spandex circular knit from Phee Fabrics. It is accented with Fantastico #5154 High Society. The chiffon in my stash came from an estate sale. Worn with a Pace Skirt.

The links to GreenStyle are affiliate links, which 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! ❤

GreenStyle Venice Beach Shorts

And Tips For Easy Binding

The Venice Beach Shorts pattern has been out for a little while, and despite it having the option for pockets, (which is an absolute necessity for shorts) I hadn’t purchased the pattern. Perhaps noting all the binding gave me pause? 😉

The Venice Beach Shorts are a rather popular running shorts style, and would give me a different look from all the Brassie Jogger shorts currently filling my shorts drawer, so it was time to branch out a bit! And, since I make a lot of tops and tanks with binding, I’ve gotten pretty comfortable with my binding and coverstitching abilities.

There are two methods of binding and construction shown in the pattern tutorial, and I chose the second “alternate construction method”, as it made the most sense for the way I sew. Since I own a serger and was using a knit fabric, doing a single fold faux binding was the way to go. After attaching the pockets and sewing the shorts front and back together at the inner leg seam, it was time to work on the binding.

When doing a single fold faux binding, I like to cut my binding strips 1″ high, rather than the recommended 1-1/4″. To give the binding extra stability when coverstitching, I serged down one long edge of the two strips of binding with my stitch width set on M, and the differential turned up to 1.3. Then right sides together, I pinned the raw edge of binding all the way around the outer edges of the back, bottom, and front of each leg, being super careful to not stretch the binding at all when going around the curves.

Use plenty of pins to keep everything aligned. Not stretching the binding on the curves will help keep it from flipping up when the binding is wrapped around to the back.

After stitching, press the binding outwards, then wrap it around the back, and pin it in place. The side panels are going to be stitched into place while coverstitching. To ensure that they stay properly aligned, I basted them in place first, being sure to keep my basting stitches well away from my stitching line.

I generally don’t stitch over my pins because who wants to risk bending or breaking a needle? Since it is important to keep everything smooth and aligned, I took my time basting and was very careful to avoid hitting a pin.

Then it was just a matter of coverstitching all the way around the binding. Having a machine with plenty of harp space (my beautiful Babylock!) makes it way easier to get your hands up in there to maneuver the leg and curves. But if you’ve ever top stitched leggings, or a neck or sleeve binding, you can do it. Take the time to adjust as needed when going around the curves. Make sure your needles are down in the fabric before lifting the presser foot to adjust. That will help keep your stitching line straight.

Did you see my fancy new pins? 🙂 They’re called magic pins, and they are pretty magical! The heads are silicone and easy to grip. They’re also heat resistant, so no worries when pressing a pinned item. They’re so much sturdier, sharper, and easier to use than my generic or glass head pins (which all seemed to be bent or curved, which was super annoying when trying to use them to mark and match up center points). I highly recommend them.

I use curved foot C when coverstitching, as the shorter length makes it easier to “follow your line” when stitching around curves. Then pull the basting stitches, and follow the tutorial for sewing the rest of the shorts. I used the contour waistband, which is recommended over the elastic foldover waist when adding pockets.

I love the smooth look of the contoured waistband under my Cami Tank.

As I always tend to do with contoured waistbands on my leggings, I added a layer of powernet to the front waistband, and serged clear elastic into the top seam when sewing the inner and outer layers together. That keeps my shorts from getting pulled down when I carry my heavy phone in my pocket.

I just love shorts with pockets!

It’s fun to have a new style of shorts! These are the 4-1/2″ inseam, #becausegrandma, but you know, I’d feel comfortable trying the 3-1/2″ inseam. I’ll leave the 2-1/2″ inseam to you runners out there though. 🙂

Oh, did you notice how much better my Cami Tank looks? If you read my previous post, you’ll recall that I had accidentally cut my straps too short, and hadn’t used the shelf bra on this tank. Well, since the Cami Tank is so cute and comfortable, I took the time to seam rip off all of the binding, added the shelf bra, cut the proper length of strap binding and stitched it all back together. It gets worn so much more often now that I don’t have to wear a bra with it! 🙂 Totally worth the time and effort to make it right.

Whether early morning or a sunset stroll, walking the beach is my happy place.

The details: I used a nylon spandex athletic knit from JoAnn Fabric for my Venice Beach Shorts. I’m thinking of trying some of the stretch woven from GreenStyle for my next pair.

You’d have thought that it would be super hard to find serger thread to match the minty/sage color of the fabric. But MaxiLock aqua was a near perfect match. I ordered the thread and magic pins from Wawak.com.

The links to GreenStyle are affiliate links, which 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! ❤

A Totally Trendy Tank Or A Summer Basic?

The GreenStyle Cami Tank is both trendy and a new basic!

I’m not generally what one would call a “trendy” person. My fashion style tends toward “comfortable classic”. But I’ll tell you, the rib knit cami tanks I see everywhere from yoga class to the grocery store and whenever I am out and about were talking to me. And lo and behold, GreenStyle put the Cami Tank into testing! 🙂

I love testing for GreenStyle, because Angelyn includes lots of options and takes perfecting the fit of her patterns seriously. Let’s start with the options: cropped, waist, and hip length; skinny or wide straps (with lots of strap placement options); and an optional shelf bra with an optional bra cup liner. Whew!

Let’s get down to the fit. The cropped and waist length versions are fitted and body skimming, as you would expect. But the hip length, ah, it is that wonderful blend of fitted at the bust, with a little more room at the waist and hips.

Can we talk about how the shelf bra is supportive and comfortable?

I don’t normally like shelf bras, because they aren’t usually supportive enough for my tastes. I used a nylon/spandex tricot for my shelf bra and was pleasantly surprised at the amount of support it offers.

I am comfortable walking around in public in this. Can you imagine how much better it will get when I use a heavier athletic fabric and removable cups in my next Cami Tank?

On to the big (busted) question. How do I decide whether to use the included full bust adjustment pattern piece? As a D+ bra cup woman whose full bust is 7″ larger than my underbust, technically, my measurements put me in the FBA. But here’s the thing- it depends on where your bust fullness is.

So, during testing of version 1 of the pattern, I tried the FBA pieces. And they worked great for the women with perky, full, round busts. But I am a Grandma who nursed my children way back in the day, and time and gravity have done their thing. My bust is fuller at the bottom than the top.

See how the fullness tends to bunch up under the arm, and yet pulls tight across my bust?

The photo makes it super obvious and shows me that the fullness in the pattern isn’t where my fullness is. This is not the fault of the pattern. The average person with a similar difference in full bust and underbust measurements would probably benefit from the FBA pieces. As a sewist, I have long known that I am longer from shoulder to bust point than average. One of the many reasons that I love GreenStyle patterns is because they actually fit me in the armscye. Have you tried patterns from other companies and been super annoyed because they cut into your armpits?

One of the best benefits of sewing is that you can make garments that fit your body. So I skipped the FBA, and instead graded out one size at the armscye. So the front neckline/shoulders are one size, and I just traced out to the next size under the arm.

Can you see what I did wrong?

And it worked perfectly. However, I did a couple of things wrong. 😦 First of all, I accidentally cut my straps over an inch too short. I figured I’d be fine since the straps are plenty long. However, I also didn’t use the shelf bra for the mint colored tank, because I knew that the wide straps would hide my bra straps. That’s all well and good, but the bra is kind of a padded push-up, and therefore makes my boobs even bigger. Ugh! I need to seam rip and remove the too short straps and cut longer straps. After making it, I sorely regretted not having the built in bra. So, word to the wise- just use the shelf bra!

Let’s talk straps. The skinny straps are cute, but let’s get real. I need the support of wider straps. So I used wide straps for every version I made. Binding and straps can seem challenging, but honestly, if you follow the tutorial, you can do it. Since I wanted the maximum width straps possible, I didn’t do the traditional double fold binding method. I did the faux method. I started by serging one long edge of my straps before attaching them. Knits don’t fray like wovens, but I find that serging the edge (with the differential turned up to 1.3) gives me a sturdier, more stable edge when I turn it under to coverstitch.

I also chose to add clear elastic along the strap, across the back, and up the other strap while serging the binding to the tank. To make life easier, I basted the binding to the tank before I serged it. That way I didn’t have to worry about aligning anything or deal with pulling my pins when serging.

I love that the presser foot has slots for the 1/4″ clear elastic! Somehow I neglected to feed the elastic into the front slot before feeding it down into the back slot and starting to serge, but hey, that perfection thing is highly overrated! 🙂

I think that having elastic continue across the back helps the top lay smooth and not get pulled up out of shape by the straps.

Because I serged the binding on with a 1/4″ seam allowance (rather than trimming off 1/8″ as I serged) I gave myself maximum strap width by just pressing the seam allowance up, and folding the strap over to not quite meet the edge. I use plenty of pins when I do binding so that everything stays smooth and in place. It really helps me keep everything an even width.

Pins are your friend when trying to keep everything aligned and even.

I can be totally trendy, in a comfortable classic style. Who wouldn’t want that? It’s destined to become a summer basic, and then worn all fall and winter with a jacket or cardigan.

What’s not to love?

The details: here is the link to GreenStyle Creations and the Cami Tank pattern. The blue and mint fabrics are a nylon/spandex athletic rib knit from JoAnn Fabrics. The marble print leggings worn with the blue tank are the Simpatico Leggings, blogpost here. The black shorts worn with the mint tank are the Chelsea Pants, cut at shorts length, posted here. The swim bottoms worn with the mint tank are the Waimea Swim Bottoms, posted here. The teal fabric in the FBA version is nylon/spandex tricot from Phee Fabrics. I also used navy nylon/spandex tricot for the shelf bra in the blue Cami Tank. I really should cut out another one in this fabric, and maybe leave the side seams open from below the shelf bra as a fun hack to the tank pattern, since I kind of like the look! I should also note that GreenStyle carries athletic rib knit and lots of other pretty fabrics. 🙂

The links to GreenStyle are affiliate links, which 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! ❤

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! ❤

Are You Ready For A Treasure Hunt?

The Stitch Upon A Time Treasure Hunt Skirt, Options, Sewing Tips, And Upcycling!

I went on a treasure hunt as soon as I was notified that I was chosen to be a pattern tester for the Treasure Hunt Skirt. My husband has recently commented that I don’t really need to make myself anymore clothes, since my closet is pretty full. Well! OK, it may actually be pretty full, but it’s too full of ready to wear clothes that I rarely wear, and not full enough of comfortable, well-fitting clothes that I’ve made myself! So, it was off to treasure hunting!

Throwing away clothes that you don’t like, or that no longer fit is wasteful. I’ve donated many bags of clothes over the years, but I thought it would be more fun to upcycle a few things. The Stitch Upon A Time Treasure Hunt Skirt has SO many options! There’s a pencil skirt with or without a flounce, a hi-low pencil skirt with flounce, an A-line skirt, a hi-low A-line, and a pleated skirt! There are maternity options as well. So, where to start? I thought the hi-low pencil skirt with flounce sounded fun (and sexy), so that was my first make.

I upcycled an old swing dress that had a pretty print, but never got worn because the polyester spandex “scuba” fabric was a little too stiff to drape nicely as a dress. It may not have been flattering as a dress, but wow! It sure made for a fun skirt!

My husband’s reaction to this skirt? “Whoa baby, that looks good!” 🙂

The skirt is figure hugging, but not tight, the hi-low flounce adds a little bit of sexy sass, and is husband approved! 😉

The shaping over the booty is just right.

It makes me feel fancy, and looks great with heels. The hi-low hem is made a bit subtle with the fun flounce. As with most flounces, it’s basically a little circle skirt. You might dread hemming circle skirts, and I guess if your fabric doesn’t fray or curl, you could leave it unhemmed. But that is not how I roll. I like nice finishes, and the quality look you get from a nice hem. Here’s how I make it easy. I serge along the bottom hem of a circle skirt with the fabric right side up, using a 4 thread overlock, with a stitch width of M, a stitch length of 2 to 2.25, and the differential up to 1.3 or 1.5. This slightly “gathers” the edge so that when you turn it under there isn’t any excess fabric to cause lumps or folds in the fabric. I always use plenty of pins and my hem gauge to get perfectly even pretty hems.

You can see the inside of the pretty hem in this stance.

Since this upcycled fabric didn’t have as much recovery as I would have liked, and because I was working with limited fabric, I used a scrap from my stash for the waistband. Although the scrap matched quite well, it had a tendency to curl, badly. Ugh! I also wanted to ensure that if my granddaughter pulled on my skirt while playing, that she didn’t pull it down! So I decided to add elastic to my waistband.

To test my elastic length, I wrapped it around my low waist where the waistband would end up, and pulled it comfortably snug. This means that it felt tight enough to stay up, but not so tight that it gave me a “muffin top”. I made sure to exercise my elastic before testing the length (stretching it out 10-15 times). The length worked out to be 1-1/2″ to 2″ shorter than the suggested waistband length. Different brands and types of elastic have more or less stretch, so I always like trying the elastic on my body before sewing it into my garment. I overlapped the elastic by 1/2″ or so, and zigzagged all around the overlap. I also cut my waistband 1-1/2″ shorter so that the elastic and band would be the same length.

Having the curling fabric and elastic all perfectly aligned with a basting zigzag made is so much easier when I serged the waistband onto the skirt.

Then I folded the waistband over the elastic and ran a wide zigzag (length 2.5, width 3.0) along the raw edge of the waistband. I made sure that the elastic was 1/4″ inside the edge of the fabric so that it would be caught in the zigzag, but not cut when the waistband was serged on the skirt. This gave me a perfectly fitting waistband that will keep my skirt from being pulled down while playing with a rambuctious 3 year old!

With all the options the Treasure Hunt Skirt offers, I thought it would be fun to try a different style. Since the hi-low speaks to me, the A-line hi-low was it. I found an old maxi skirt in my closet and it had enough fabric to make my skirt and a cute top for my granddaughter. The polyester spandex ITY made such a fun, swishy skirt!

The A-line is full enough to flow and drape nicely over the body.

I made a slight change to the waistband on this skirt, by adding 2″ to the height. This made it 1″ taller than the original band. I played with a french tuck to show off the waistband.

Do I look like a flamingo in this pose? The fabric kind of makes me think of a Lilly Pulitzer flamingo print!

From the back the skirt just looks like a simple A-line.

But from the side you can really see the pretty hi-low effect.

Even though it’s a flowy skirt, the hi-low gives it a little bit of a sexy look.

I loved the look so much, that the next day, I made another hi-low A-line skirt. It was another upcycle, this time out of a jersey knit.

I love that the hi-low is shorter in front, but not too short.

I wasn’t sure that I’d like the jersey knit as much as the drapey ITY, but honestly, this might be my favorite skirt!

The cut of this skirt just gives such a pretty drape!

It seriously looks good from every angle!

It’s hair flipping pretty isn’t it?

It sure makes me feel pretty! And isn’t a pattern that flatters your body and makes you feel pretty a treasure in and of itself?

Are you ready to go on a treasure hunt and make yourself a new Treasure Hunt Skirt? It’s such a quick, yet satisfying sew! And with all the options available in one pattern, you can make yourself a variety of fun, comfortable skirts.

The details: These are affiliate links to the Stitch Upon A Time site and the Treasure Hunt Skirt. 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! 🙂

The white top is a Titania Tunic tied in a knot. It’s my favorite way to wear this top! It also looks good with my Legend Leggings blogged here.

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

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. ❤