a stripey dress and the July summary

IMG_4294My third and final big project for July was a maxidress, made from a stripey/zigzagged knit that I picked up about 2 summers ago from this hole in the wall fabric store that I didn’t know existed near my house. Most of the fabric they had wasn’t all that exciting to me, being largely quilting cottons and weird polyesters. But the two older ladies who were running the shop chatted with me and Doug for awhile, since we were the only people there at the time, so I felt sort of obligated to buy something. This knit was pretty much the only thing that jumped out to me.

The pattern is McCall’s 6559, which I’ve made once before. I knew the dress still fits me fine, so I didn’t make any adjustments. But maybe I should have– this fabric is almost too lightweight to not see through, and it still pulls down in front quite a bit!

The first time I wore it out in public (to church, which was a mistake), I spent the whole service tugging the thing up, debating whether shortening the straps would tighten up the armholes too much or trying to insert a scrap of fabric into the neckline to act as a fake camisole would be the better move. My husband was adamantly against that idea. But I think I have a working solution now…

IMG_4270…turning it backwards!

(And hey, check out that stripe matching. The zig zags aren’t perfect, but I think I did pretty darn good on the straight lines. I did have to rip out a partial seam to fix, but it was worth it.)

IMG_4269

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Yeah, I think I’m going to like it much better like this.

Another thing that makes me happy about this project is that I was able to have it do double-duty for challenges again– the Stashbusting Sewalong theme for July was dresses, and The Monthly Stitch’s was spots and stripes. It’s nice to still feel like I’m involved in the more social aspect of this!

So, my quick stashbusting update for July:

I used up a total of about 5 yards. I bought 6.5, which have not arrived in the mail yet. Most of that is small pieces for Hobbit’s Halloween costume this year, and one piece is for the sewing dare that I got from Gillian, because I didn’t have anything on hand that would quite work. (Plus I needed $50 worth of stuff to get free shipping.) The bad news is that this purchase puts me back up to about 400 yards total, but the good news is that I’ve used up about 42 1/2 yards for the year so far. Which is really not bad, considering how ridiculously hard it has been to get sewing time in this year!

My other exciting news is that I am finally making progress on getting Hobbit to take his morning nap in the crib! I haven’t made it into the sewing room every day, because I still have to do some stuff like get dinner thrown in the crockpot or occasionally clean something. But I did get enough time in last week to trace out the pattern for the Halloween costume, order the fabric, do some much-needed tidying in my sewing room, and cut out a project for myself. Which will not be the next thing I sew, since I intend to do some embellishing on the fabric first, but still– sewing time! During the day! How exciting is that?!

 

black is the new red

A little bit of selfish sewing in the midst of baby-sewing craziness! As it happens, I finished this dress just in time for my birthday tomorrow. But I won’t be wearing it, because there’s a chance of snow and it’s only supposed to get up to 33 degrees, tops. That’s .5 degrees for you Celsius folks, and I don’t know how you live with that temperature scale, because that sounds even worse! And this isn’t the sort of dress that would work well with close-toed shoes. February birthdays can suck like that.

IMG_2327Anyway. This is Simplicity 3678, now out of print, which I’ve actually made once before. I’m laughing because in the original post, I did specifically mention possibly revisiting it if I ever needed a maternity dress, because of all of the gathering that I needed to remove to avoid the preggo look! I’d kind of forgotten I’d said that, actually. I guess it’s a good thing I never threw the pattern away. The funny thing is, at least in this picture, I seem to look pretty normal from the front, right?

Maternity maxi-dress
Nope. Definitely a maternity dress. (I’m at 24 1/2 weeks now.)

Aside from lengthening and slightly flaring the skirt, since I really wanted a maxi-dress, here’s the adjustments I made:

  • In some ways, I followed the instructions more closely than the first time. In the original dress, I stitched the pleats down into more of a pintuck, because it was kind of ballooning out funny. For this version, I figured I’ll need the extra room and left those as pleats. I also sewed the facing more as it called for, though with a double row of stitching to try and give it a little more of an RTW look. (I wish I knew why my machine is occasionally skipping stitches for that, since I am doing a slight zigzag on a longer stitch length with a ballpoint jersey needle, just like I’m supposed to be! Any thoughts? My machine doesn’t have that lightning bolt stretch stitch.)
  • I added a little more gathering in the front to accommodate the bump. Probably somewhere close to 2″–honestly, all I did was go out from the center front fold to the still uncut edge of the original pattern tissue.
  • I still had to cut the back in two pieces, which I apparently had to do the first time, too. With all of that extra skirt length, I was barely able to get the pieces to fit! I actually also had to cut the midriff pieces perpendicular to what it called for as well–but after the recent leggings disaster, I made sure the stretch would work for that before I cut it this time. 
    1. IMG_2322
    • Doesn’t look so V-neck now, does it? While that also would have been nursing friendly, my size has already changed enough that this would have been very mentally uncomfortable for me to wear in public. (Seriously–while I know there’s a good reason for it, I’m actually kind of embarrassed at the size bra I had to buy recently!) So I improvised a bit of a faux camisole front for it, and even inserted some elastic in the casing that the stitching made to help hold things in place. It’s not quite as snug as I would have hoped, but it should do the job. 
      • For the bodice/midriff, I did slim down the seam allowances on the side slightly– 1/2″ instead of 5/8″– just to give me a little extra room, since I’m not sure how things will go in the third trimester or if my ribcage will expand or anything like that.
          Nursing adaptation

        • To make this nursing-friendlier so I can wear this for more than just the spring, I took a suggestion from Joanne and added an invisible zipper in the front of the dress! It’s sitting right at the top of the waistband, which I’m hoping will also stabilize the weight of the longer skirt. (I also sewed some clear elastic in the back to help with that as well.) Because of that, I did somewhat have to change the order of the directions, as in sewing the side seams for the bodice/midriff separately instead of all at once. But again, I took a cue from the leggings issues and made sure to baste things first so the seams had a better chance of lining up. Overall, I’m very happy with how this modification worked, and will possibly be doing it again, since I’m hoping to make a second maxi-dress before Hobbit comes. It’s just a case of deciding whether to stick with this pattern, since I already did the hacking, or to play around with modifying last summer’s Tiramisu hack. If I do the latter, I may not need to add extra access points, since that one works better on me as a V-neck.

          It’ll be good to have something new to look forward to, if it ever warms up around here. If I’ve learned one lesson from the last month or so of trying to cobble together outfits, it’s that I’m just not a wardrobe minimalist. I admire those people that can fully commit to the Wardrobe Architect-type thing of paring down her closet to a set of core outfit components that they can mix and match and accessorize to their heart’s content. But frankly, I like having more options, and I’ve definitely been missing having more prints in my life, even if they don’t necessarily go with everything! (I say as I show off a solid black dress, right?)

          IMG_2332Oh, and the title? I’m still trying to play around with keeping up with some of the monthly themes/challenges for the Stashbusting Sewalong and The Monthly Stitch as I can. I can use this for the latter, since it’s a solid color, but the only color specified in this month’s Stashbusting theme was red, which I hardly ever wear or even buy. But Malkin was kind enough to sport a little red on his collar while photobombing me, so that has to count for something. Right?

          The Sorbetto that was late for everything

          I love sewalongs! Especially when I can work things so that one project fits the parameters of multiple ones. What can I say, I guess I have a hard time not wanting to participate in All The Things. I mentioned in a recent post that I’d been planning to make a Red Velvet that I could use for both The Monthly Stitch’s birthday sewalong, and the Sewcialists’ Tribute month, and that it didn’t work out. So my plan B was to revisit my original list of things I planned to sew this summer, and make the Colette Sorbetto. My thought process, since I was still in DragonCon prep mode at the time, was pretty much this:

          “A lot of cake has flowers on it, so a floral print top would work for cake. Even if they’re daisies and not roses. And I’m sure somebody out there likes Sorbettos enough that I could say this is a tribute to her, right? Right!”

          And then I didn’t finish this until yesterday anyway, which makes it too late for both sewalongs. Oh well. I’ll probably throw this one up on TMS anyway.

          Oh, right, you probably want to see that shirt, don’t you?

          IMG_1583
          So here it is, in all of its slouchy glory. I’m still not convinced this is a good pattern for me, to be honest. It’s all right when tucked in, though that’s not a look I often go for, and I guess I’m a little stuck on looser top + fitted skirt still = waist definition. But it is pretty comfortable to wear outside, which is good, because September and July seem to have traded places this year! So while I was enjoying mostly that golden range of 70-85 degrees most of the summer, now that it’s unofficially fall, we’re back to 90 degrees and 200% humidity. Go figure.

          I did make a couple of changes, which are completely unoriginal, given how long this pattern’s been out. I lowered the darts about 1″, because they were way too high on the original pattern. I’m pretty sure they’re in an ok place now, but the shirt tends to slide forward on me and bring them too low, so it’s hard to say. I also replaced that front pleat with some gathering–I thought that might help it work better with both the pattern and, well, my chest. In that, I do think this was more successful than my last attempt. Finally, I lengthened the pattern as much as the fabric would let me.

          IMG_1586
          Untucked, it just looks like a sack. So while I was considering/planning to bring this on my upcoming France trip, now I’m not so sure.

          As for the fabric, it’s a rayon challis that I acquired via a swap with Kat about a year and a half ago. I hadn’t sewn with challis since, oh, the 90s. And I forgot how lovely it can be to work with–which is good, since I have 2 more pieces stashed for dresses! And I guess a year and a half really isn’t all that bad, as far as my stash habits go. I literally still have fabric that I purchased back when I was in college (over a decade now, yikes!), though at least by now, it’s a piece leftover from a finished project.

          The time of year pretty much demands that I move on to more fall sewing now. So let’s evaluate how I did with my summer sewing plans overall, shall we?

          Tops:

          1. A navy daisy-print tank, most likely a slightly modified Sorbetto. See above.
          2. A royal blue button-down blouse, from a Burda mag. Not even close to thinking about this one.
          3. A navy Archer blouse, which will probably be closer to the fall. I did think about this one, but it obviously didn’t happen.
          4. A striped ivory knit tee–hoping to use the Plantain but we’ll see if I have enough fabric. Done, cardigan-style.

          Bottoms:

          1. Fitted/skinny-ish jeans. Check!
          2. Thurlow shorts. Too bad I didn’t have time for these, because I really could have used some shorts that fit for when I was at work, if nothing else. Maybe next year?
          3. Solid black Thurlow pants, which I do not currently have fabric for. And I still don’t have fabric for them, but I still should do this sometime. My black RTW pants that I’ve also had since college are finally starting to fall apart!
          4. Possibly some black Clover pants– I have fabric that will work, but have not tested this pattern yet. Maybe I should just use that fabric with the Thurlows?
          5. If I have time, a Pavlova skirt. I didn’t have time.
          6. I also have a plum skirt that I can do a quick refashion of to make it a better skirt. Maybe this fall?

          Dresses:

          1. A navy/ivory Cambie  Done!
          2.  A plum/yellow/royal/white Darling Ranges. I’m bumping this one to my fall plans.
          3. A yellow/white/turquoise Reglisse dress. Part of me is tempted to say I want to make this in October, since The Monthly Stitch is using that pattern as one of their Frocktober contest ones, but the colors are just sooooo summery. I dunno.
          4. A plum/green/white/ knit Tiramisu maxi-dress Done!
          5. A black tank knit maxidress, from McCall’s 6559. Done, though shorter than planned.

          Layering pieces: Honestly, I didn’t touch this category.

          1. a 3/4 sleeve jacket, from the ivory/black embroidered twill I got at Mood and Simplicity 4491 (which I’ll modify to shorten and cuff the sleeves.)
          2. An ivory Carmine shrug.
          3.  a yellow knitted cardigan, which I already have yarn and a pattern for, but starting it will have to wait until I finish my grey cardigan. Considering I haven’t even finished my Roheline cardigan yet, this was a definite no-go.

          IMG_1592So all in all, I had 18 things on my list, only made 6 of them, but also made about 6 things that weren’t on this list at all for DragonCon. Plus that Kimono tee from the maxi-dress leftovers, and a couple of refashions. So I guess that isn’t too bad for this summer!

          Next post: FESA plans!! Did I mention I love sewalongs? But for now, I’ll leave you with my “smug model” photo. Because I can. And this particular picture makes me think that maybe tucking in a looser top could actually work on me. Maybe.

          listening to the fabric

          First off, wow, thanks for all of the compliments on the jeans! Provided the metal doesn’t disastrously rip out in the wash (which I’m going to be so nervous about until I actually wash them), I suspect they’ll be a staple this fall.

          McCalls 6559Speaking of staples, this finished project probably won’t be all that exciting to look at, but I think it does fill a little gap in my wardrobe. I took a break from DragonCon sewing to knock out this little black tank dress, so I could get it done in time for The Monthly Stitch‘s monochromatic theme month that’s currently going on. I also wanted to make sure I got this done before the end of the summer, so I’d have it for traveling–Doug and I booked a trip to Paris! I’ve never been to Europe, so you can imagine my excitement. I’ve also been told that he’s ok with me buying a little souvenir fabric, so I will happily take suggestions for places to shop there! (Especially places that are reasonably priced and have interesting prints. Despite what this dress may make you think, I’m definitely more interested in buying those!)

          The pattern is McCall’s 6559, and it was a quite easy sew. Two pieces, and the edges are just turned under and stitched. I’d probably do a binding on the armholes and neckline next time so it would lay a little flatter. I’d originally thought to make this a more fitted maxi-dress. Obviously, that didn’t happen, because the fabric said no. It ended up being too narrow at the bottom for the full width of the skirt. So rather than slim the skirt and end up annoyed walking in it–I definitely have a long stride–I figured I’d just go for the shorter length. So I still have maybe a yard left over, but it shouldn’t be terribly hard to figure out something to do with a lovely black organic cotton interlock, right?

          IMG_1495(He just can’t stand to stay out of the photos for long!) I did take it in at the armholes a little, and would normally have taken in the waist more, too. But I think I made the right choice in leaving that as is. The interlock doesn’t drape as smoothly as it would probably need to for a more fitted dress. So I figured that leaving it looser would give me some styling flexibility, plus probably be a little more comfortable when August around here is doing its usual 90+ degrees with 2000% humidity thing. This was how I wore it for its first outing, to see a local exhibit of costumes from Downton Abbey. (Yes, I took detail shots, and will happily share them in a future post if people are interested.)

          image

          But I also did some playing around on Instagram after I finished it–the right is unbelted (and you can see a little how loose it is), and I tried it with a wider belt and then a skinnier belt and blousing it out a la the Sewaholic Saltspring dress. I do think it kind of needs some kind of belt to work on me, to be honest.

          image

          But I do like the versatility of it. This was from last night– after I got home later than expected, Doug suggested we hit the Waffle House instead of me cooking dinner. Isn’t he great? So I threw on a recently-acquired chambray shirt, threw the belt back over that, and was ready to go. I’m glad I did, because I get cold in air conditioning fast. 

          So, even though it wasn’t quite what I originally had in mind, I’m satisfied with how this turned out for such an easy thing to make, and I’m sure I’ll have fun this fall with layering it up to make it more functional for that season, too.

          Mone-misu? Tir-etta?

          Monemisu

          This dress wasn’t in my original summer plan, but it was a nice quick make. I cut it out and sewed most of the bodice together on Sunday, sewed the neckline and armholes on Monday, made and attached the skirt on Wednesday, and hemmed it yesterday. It’s also nice and comfortable–the fabric is some rayon knit from Mood that I bought specifically for this project. Not so great for the stashbusting, but at least I used it quickly!

          IMG_1411This week’s Indie Pattern Month contest on The Monthly Stitch is Franken-patterning, so that was part of my inspiration.  The top is based on the Colette Monetta dress, and the bottom is based on the Cake Tiramisu dress, though I modified both parts. For the Monetta top, I squared off the neckline and added seams down the center of both the front and back of the outside pieces. Since I wasn’t doing the collar, but I still wanted to line the top, I also had to tweak the clean finish directions a bit–I did that around the neckline, and the lower half of the armholes, but I had to hand-stitch the top of the armholes closed. For the skirt, I cut both halves on the fold instead of seaming it down the middle like the original pattern. It’s a pretty plain and simple dress overall, but I think it’ll be a good one to play with accessories. Especially since the color is much brighter and cheerier than the average neutral solid knit dress!

          IMG_1409
          So if you’ve been reading this blog for awhile, you know I’m a fan of secretly geeky clothes. Now that I’ve got you thinking this is just a normal knit dress, it’s time to ruin the illusion by revealing that this is also going to be a part of one of my DragonCon costumes! I still have a couple components to make for that, but I’ll give you a clue: Think Disney bookworm who’s fond of teacups.

          I’m having trouble with the picture insert, so you can find the picture here. So did I get the gist of it? The idea is to make as many costume bits that can be worn as everyday clothes as possible, so I’m not spending my entire summer sewing things that I’m only going to wear once. And Belle was my favorite when I was a kid–she loved books, she was a fellow brownI’m having trouble inserting the picture, so click here.-eyed girl, and she wasn’t afraid to use her head to help her get out of sticky situations. And whack at the wolves with a big stick, even if she wasn’t very good at it. What’s not to love?
          I still need to make a top, apron, and hair bow for this, but I think this dress is a pretty good start.

          Speaking of DragonCon, I’ve recently made the difficult decision to set the Tauriel costume aside. It’s been going so slowly, and I’ve been racking my brains unsuccessfully for 3 months to come up with a good way to sew that armor bodice without making the vinyl tear apart the second I put it on, since I never was able to find a closure for it. Given how much I still need to make for multiple costumes, even though they’re more everyday-clothes, and that I’m also going to need to help my best friend with some of hers, it just doesn’t make sense to continue when I have a perfectly good Eowyn costume that only needs a blonde wig. Besides, as surprisingly much as I enjoyed Tauriel in the latest Hobbit movie, Eowyn is still cooler. And, you know, actually in the books.

          Tira-max-su

          IMG_1388Last summer, Cindy at Cation Designs posted a maxi-dress made from the popular Cake Patterns Tiramisu dress. I’ve been wanting to try this hack since, and finally got around to finishing it on Thursday! I figured that I have made this dress once before, and it’s knit, so it should come together fast, right?

          Note to self: If you’re going to go to the trouble of keeping a notebook where you write down changes you’ve made to patterns so you can go back and alter the pattern later, don’t lose the bloody notebook. (I guess it’s time to clean my sewing room again, sigh!)

          The first time around, I had a bit of trouble getting the bust to fit right. But in typical fashion, I didn’t actually bother to make changes to the pattern before moving on to the next project. I’m impatient like that. So of course, when I sewed up the neckline this time, it was saggy and sad-looking. Which means I had to resort to unpicking several inches of serging in the middle, overlapping it more, and serging it again.

          IMG_1337It’s still not perfect, but at least the weight of the skirt pulls it down enough that it sits mostly flat now! At least, as long as I’m not trying to do the typical Tiramisu pose of bending over to show how much it’s not gapping. (Please ignore the scary Gollum face. And my posture. Rounded back much?) It’s not too big in the chest, just the neckline, so I need to do some research to figure out what adjustment to make for next time. Maybe if I just take a wedge out of the neck or something?

          The fabric was a Christmas gift from my mom this past year–the really great thing about having a mother who also sews is that I can tell her my ideas for things I want to make, and she finds great fabric prints for me! And only living in the stash for 6 months is pretty amazing, by my standards. The other really nice thing about this particular print, aside from the fact that so many colors I love are in it, is that it was so abstract, I didn’t have to worry about matching at all. That helped a lot with the speed of sewing things together.

          Aside from my fitting quick fix, here’s the changes I made:

          • Lengthened the skirt to about 37″ (95.25cm)
          • Made the skirt panels narrower from about the hips down, for the super-practical reason that they were too wide at the bottom for my lengthwise-folded fabric otherwise!
          • Added clear elastic to both the shoulder seams and the lower midriff band seam to help support the weight

          Click to go to voting page

          I took a couple of pictures on Friday night so I could get my post up on The Monthly Stitch in time for the Indie Pattern Month dress competition. Voting is open now, so if you’re so inclined, I’d appreciate any votes that I can get!  

          Aside from that, I debuted the dress yesterday, when Doug and I went down to Washington, D.C. for the day. The nice thing about living on the East coast is that it’s really easy to get places, and this particular day trip is only about a 2-hour drive one way for us. We were celebrating our one-year anniversary, which is actually today! And, competition aside, I really wanted to get this dress done in time for the trip, because I wanted something that would be breezy and comfortable enough for walking around the city in 80+ degree temperatures (we went to the National Zoo and the Smithsonian’s Air & Space Museum), but dressy enough for the evening’s finale at a performance by the National Symphony Orchestra. It worked out really well for both purposes, I think!

          IMG_1355
          Also, watching a panda eat bamboo is pretty adorable. Am I right?