Frolic Dress Fun All Summer Long

Tips for adding support and sewing the binding

Summer clothes are so much more fun than winter clothes. They’re light and comfortable, and tend to be more colorful. Swishy sundresses that you can throw on and head out the door are a great summer look.

The new Frolic Romper and Dress by Stitch Upon A Time is perfect for summer breezes. The wrap around skirt is full and swishy, and the top can have a halter tie or cross back straps. Mine started out as a halter top, which I thought was really cute.

The open back of the halter, is certainly sexy (so says my husband!)

But after wearing it a while, the weight of my bust pulled on my neck too much, so I turned it into a cross back.

I love the cross-back!

I think it’s just as sexy, and it’s certainly more comfortable for my neck. The wrap skirt is perfect for skimming over the belly, without being tight or revealing.

It’s such a fun look, I can’t help but smile!

I thought it would be fun to climb up on the railing for a photo, to show the slit of the wrap around skirt. Try not to laugh at my version of a “sexy pose”. Hahahahahaha! Of course after climbing up on the railing, I had to jump down, in a perhaps not quite so lady-like fashion. 🙂

As you can see, it overlaps pretty far in the front, so there won’t be any wardrobe malfunctions!

I love the drape of high quality rayon spandex, it’s perfect for dresses. As I am not small-chested, I decided to use a nylon spandex tricot swim fabric as the inner layer on the bodice. The stronger rebound of the swim fabric gave me extra support and coverage. During testing, it was suggested to add elastic at the bottom of the bodice, sandwiched between the inner and outer layers for more support. Since I need maximum support, I used 1″ knit elastic.

To help keep the elastic in place (and give myself a guide for sewing the skirt on), I basted the main and lining layers wrong sides together, 1″ from the bottom edge of the bodice. I cut the elastic to fit snugly, yet comfortably under my bust, overlapped 1/2″, and zig-zagged the elastic to form a loop. Then I slid the elastic in between the fabric layers, and pinned at the quarter points.

I added more pins to ensure that the elastic would be evenly stretched before serging along the bottom edge.

After I serged the elastic around the bottom, it was time to add the binding. Since this is a summer dress, I wanted a fun pop of color for the binding, and decided to use the same teal nylon spandex tricot as I did for the bodice lining layer. To give my bust even more support, I added clear elastic when serging the binding to the bodice.

I always serge along the unfinished edge of binding before adding it to my garments. It adds extra stability when you wrap the binding and top or coverstitch it.

Then I pressed the binding up toward the seam allowance, wrapped it around the inside and pinned it in place. Then it was time to coverstitch.

You might think I use too many pins, but, I like everything to stay perfectly in place so I can do a good job of coverstitching the first time, and not have to spend any time seam ripping!

Next came gathering the skirt. Have I mentioned that I dislike gathering? I like the look when it’s done well, but it is so time consuming to gather and pin in place! This is where that basting line above the elastic came in handy. The skirt got pinned to the bodice, right sides together, leaving the (encased) elastic below. Because I wanted to ensure that the skirt was even, I hand-basted the skirt to the bodice. Can I just mention how very grateful I am to live in this era of fancy sewing machines, sergers, and coverstitch machines? I cannot imagine how long it used to take to sew all your clothing by hand.

The hand-basting paid off with pretty perfect gathers!

While I love the result, it was a bit time consuming to sew the skirt to the bodice above the elastic, rather than just serging it on. The next time I make this dress, I plan to add an inch to the bodice lining so that I can serge the 1″ elastic on, flip it up and coverstitch it. Then I’d take an inch off the main fabric bodice so that the skirt could just be serged to the outer bodice (and still line up with the bodice lining). It’s important that the seam line falls right under the bust to give the most flattering shaping.

The Frolic Dress just screams summer!

Suffice it to say that I love this dress! It’s comfortable and flattering, while hiding my love of buttered popcorn! 🙂 It’s going to get worn all summer long. Ok, did anybody else just start singing?

The details: the Frolic Romper and Dress, along with all their other patterns and fabric are available at Stitch Upon A Time.

Technically, the cross back straps should have gone through loops, and then just tied in a bow. But I am long from shoulder to bust, and the straps didn’t seem quite long enough for a bow. And well, I like things clean and simple. So I just sewed them into place. It works for me!

I purchased the rayon spandex and nylon spandex tricot from Phee Fabrics.

The links to Stitch Upon A Time 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! ❤

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! ❤

Stitch Upon A Time Legend Leggings

When you go to yoga class four days a week, you need a lot of workout wear! I am super picky about workout wear because if it’s not comfortable, breathable, and able to stretch with me, it’s not getting worn.

Making leggings that work as hard as you do can be a challenge. Some patterns are meant to look cute as lounge or daily wear, but don’t really work for exercise. And obviously fabric choice plays a part in this. But the new Legend Leggings from Stitch Upon A Time meet my workout challenge, even after a sweaty Ashtanga Yoga class!

The waistband didn’t roll or give me a “muffin top”. I even wore a Titania Tunic tied up on the side, exposing my belly, which is definitely not the norm for the 50+ year old crowd! That’s how confident I feel in my new leggings!

I played around while doing photos and actually managed to get a few seconds of air time (while flashing my belly, gasp!) on a public beach. Hahahahahaha! Obviously I was never a gymnast or cheerleader, but I have built some decent upper body strength after doing yoga for nearly 18 years. 😉

The inseam free Legends can be shorts, capri, or full length. They can be solid or have stripes that curve to accent the booty.

You can keep it simple and let your fabric be the focal point, or go crazy and cover-stitch to accent all the seams. The waistband can be low or high, but being a rebel (which is so unlike me) I went halfway between for a mid-height.

I love leggings that give me flexibility in fit and style. I had no problems with them riding up or down, no matter how many forward folds, stretches, or holds.

I love leggings that are comfortable and versatile, that you can wear to lounge about or workout. Here is how I personalized them to suit me:

I am tall, so I added 1″ to the capri length. As mentioned, I cut halfway between the low and high rise for my perfect waistband height. To give the front waistband more tummy smoothing power (I like cookies, okay?) I added powernet to half of the waistband. (Cutting the powernet to fit the entire folded over waistband would give even more holding power.) The powernet was basted to the front waistband, then the front and back waistbands were sewn together as per the tutorial. I recommend cover-stitching the side seams or stitching in the ditch with a sewing machine to keep the side seams aligned if you add powernet. I also gave myself a little more booty room by cutting along the Medium inner back crotch curve line, while cutting everything else on my measured size Large cut line.

It was a great way to give a little more room for “the junk in the trunk”, especially since I like using highly compressive fabric for leggings. Keep in mind that if you have a similar booty/body shape, that you will need to stretch the back waistband a little bit, while easing in the body of the leggings. If you’ve ever had pants that fit nicely over your booty, but gapped at the back waist, this solves that problem.

The details: I used three different colors of Supplex from Phee Fabrics for this fun striped look. The reverse triple cover-stitching was done using a variegated thread in the looper. I just love the fun look you get from variegated thread, especially when working with solid color fabrics. And yes, I will definitely make another pair (or three!) of Legend Leggings. I think it would be a fun look to use powernet as the outer stripe. Kind of sexy and kind of fun, what can I say?!

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, patterns, and fabric. ❤

The Sinclair Alana Princess Seam Dress

Don’t you just love princess seam dresses? The curves fit your curves, you get the opportunity to color-block and really personalize your fit, and best of all, it’s truly a universally flattering style!

I was excited when Sinclair Patterns posted the tester call for this pattern and quickly applied to test. I enjoy testing patterns for a few reasons: it gives me a deadline and focus for my sewing (especially helpful if you’re in a sewing slump); it’s an opportunity to learn or try different techniques or finishes; you get to provide input on how a pattern fits on different bodies and body shapes; and of course you get to play with a new pattern!

The Alana Princess Seam Dress has gently flared skirt which accentuates (or gives the illusion of) an hourglass figure, and, it has pockets!

It’s not often that a knit dress includes pockets, because of course knits stretch. Pockets can become distorted or cause unflattering lumps and bumps when “hidden” in a side seam. But the Alana pockets are integrated into the design, and the tutorial provides instructions for stabilizing the pocket opening so they don’t get all droopy and ugly.

Obviously, fabric choice is going to affect the look and fit of any pattern. A higher Lycra or spandex content is going to give a firmer fit and more “hold”. A softer knit is going to give more drape. This dress was made with coordinating Art Gallery Fabrics cotton Lycra prints.

Because the AGF cotton Lycra has excellent 4-way stretch, I laid the front and back center panel pattern pieces cross grain to give me vertical stripes. And I was super careful when laying out the side front and side back pieces so that the stripes would align down the side seams.

What was I thinking when I decided to use a striped fabric on a time-sensitive garment? \_O_/ Hahahahahaha! If you want perfectly matched stripes, you have to take the time to do lots and lots of pinning to keep everything aligned when you sew!

Sinclair Patterns are somewhat unique in the .pdf pattern world, as they include short, average, and tall pattern options. Most of my height is in my legs, but I am also longer than average from shoulder to bust point. So I use the tall pattern from the shoulder through the armscye, and the regular pattern for the balance of the dress. Have you ever noticed a ready to wear (or sewn by you) top or dress cutting up into your armpits and creating wrinkles? Well, you probably need a deeper armscye.

Do you notice wrinkles on the side of the bust radiating out to the side seams? And sometimes a big wrinkle above the bust going out to the side seam? That tells you that there isn’t enough room for your bust in that top or dress. Simply using a larger size isn’t the solution, as then the top will be too large in the shoulder and neckline area. What you are likely to need is an adjustment in the bust area. There are plenty of full bust adjustment tutorials and videos online, and they generally do a good job of solving the problem. It’s a little different on a princess seam pattern, and there are princess seam FBA tutorials online too.

But for me, I really only need extra width specifically at the bust area, basically, some bust projection room. To personalize the pattern, I literally drew a C-shaped extension on the front side panels at the bust level. At its widest point, the C extension is about 3/4″ wide. I don’t need extra width at the top of or under the bust, so this type of adjustment is perfect for my body and bustline.

It adds space for the bust, but no extra fullness above or bagginess below the bust. It’s amazing how one small change can make a pattern fit so well.

So, was there anything that I disliked about the pattern or tutorial? I am not a big fan of the neckline facing. I get the point of it, and really like the idea of a clean finish. If I were using a more structured or thicker fabric, it would be a great finish. But if your fabric is a little more stretchy, or lighter, or at all sheer, I don’t like that I can see it through my main fabric. It’s also more time consuming than a simple bound neckline would have been.

In the future, I’m likely to just do a binding at the neckline. It’s quick and easy, and hey, any excuse to cover-stitch is good for me! 🙂

If you’re looking for a fun princess dress pattern, give the Alana Dress a spin! You can color-block, go solid, or use coordinating prints. There are high or scoop neck options, it can be sleeveless or have short, 3/4 or long sleeves, and the dress can be short or knee length, and the pockets are optional. This is a pattern I will use again and I love the comfortable fit. If you don’t use stripes, it’s a pretty quick sew! 🙂

The details: I used the scoop neckline, shorter length, and of course, pockets! The fabric is Art Gallery Fabrics cotton Lycra, purchased from my local sewing shop. AGF is available from online shops and may be carried at local independent sewing shops.

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. ❤

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! ❤

 

Tempo Athletic Tights

How I Upcycled, And Made Them Capri Length

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

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

Tempo fit pattern

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

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

Tempo front

Tempo back

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

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

Tempo capri adj

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

Tempo insert adj

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

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

Tempo black

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

Tempo black angle

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

Tempo inside leg

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

Tempo black close

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

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

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