Friday, July 21, 2017

Pattern Hack: The Bowline Sweater Dress

This month is Indie Pattern Month over at The Monthly Stitch with its weekly sewing challenges. It's always been hard for me to maintain my own blog and even though I wanted to participate in their monthly challenges, I could never find the time to do so. Enter this week's challenge called Hack it. 

And you know how much I love to hack existing patterns! I decided not to pass this one up. And to kill a bird with two stones, I will also enter this dress into another challenge organized by a fellow French blogger

As the title stated, I used the Bowline sweater pattern by Papercut Patterns and turned it into a sleeveless dress! When this pattern came out, I loved its originality and saw some cute versions on the blogosphere. 

Then last Christmas, I wanted to make a dress out of a gorgeous dark red animal print knit I've been hoarding for the longest. I started roaming through my PDF patterns and had a lightbulb moment. What if I took the sleeves out and added a skirt, it would make a cool dress with an equally cool neckline.

I read the instructions over and over again to understand the sort of burrito method they used for the shoulder drape. And since when it comes to knits, I can be quite fearless, I cut a medium size skipping a muslin, pinned it all together (ouch, I need to stop doing that!), tried it on and I was sold!

Since it was drafted to be a sweater, the armholes were really low but that was an easy fix.  I ended up not sewing the dress because I had promised my youngest one that I would make her a Christmas dress. 

Fast forward July, and the Indie Pattern Month challenge. I initially wanted to do yet another hack of the Lodo dress but figured I should take a break from that pattern after making 5 of them. Looking through my stash, I came across this cute tie-dye rayon knit fabric bought in May from Califabrics.

 I went through my PDF patterns again and decided to make the sleeveless Bowline. I dug out that UFO from Christmas and studied it carefully along with the instructions because I had completely forgotten how I put it together the first time.

 It wasn't too hard to figure it out. Below are pics (I apologize for the crappiness of the phone pics!) of the construction.

I proceeded as per instructions omitting only the sleeves

In order to sew the straps down, you have to hem or coverstitch the armholes beforehand. The next 2 steps are in the instructions but I'm adding the pics anyway. 

The pattern instructions are very well done! No surprises here.

Below is the burrito that makes the cool drape happen.

And voila! C'est fait! I did take a wedge out the side seams about 1 1/2 inches off at the armholes tapering to nothing at the waist. Otherwise, it would have been indecently low.

The skirt is pretty straightforward. I drafted 2 rectangles the same width as the bottom of the bodice and added pockets and an elastic at the waist. Threads magazine offered a inseam pockets template in one of their recent email newsletter, so I used that. 

Love, love, love this neckline. Topstitching knit straps is not for the faint of heart!

The back view.

There you have it. It took a day to sew this up. Okay maybe under pressure! But honestly, it's truly easy!

My photographer (aka my 13 years old) was reluctant to take these pictures. She's been begging me to do a blog post about the speech tournaments dresses and skirt I made for her. You'll be seeing those soon and many more. I've been very productive since summer started and was very diligent to get some sewing done before homeschool and speech season kicks off in August.

A bientot!

Sunday, May 21, 2017

Pattern Review : A Nautical Lace-up True Bias Lodo Dress

I'm back with yet another striped number. I hope you're not tired of seeing stripes on this blog!
This time, I went for a more colorful stripe fabric with nautical vibes. I took advantage of a 20% birthday discount at Style Maker Fabrics back in March and treated myself with this gorgeous Nautical Stripe Rib Texture Navy Ponte Knit (it's sadly sold out now).

 It's a mix of white, navy, red and pink heavyweight ponte with rib texture. I bought 2 yards of it without really knowing what I was going to make. Fast forward to the month of May with the rise of temperatures here in Nor Cal and finding myself reaching over and over again for my Inari dress (which I still need to write a blog post about) and the Simplicity 1366 ruffle sleeves dress!

Named Clothing Inari Dress (mmm17 pic)
Simplicity 1366 dress
I wanted to wear more shift and cocoon style dresses but rather than sewing another Inari and after seeing all the cute Lodo dresses popping up on Instagram, I opted for the latter. The fabric choice was inspired by a new French designer I discovered via a French Instagrammer. She had posted a top from a French magazine made in the exact same stripe fabric. How cool is that?

The designer Frnch Officiel Spring/Summer collection has some amazing stripe tops, sweaters and dresses. I was immediately drawn to the lace-up ones since I've been on a grommets quick recently.
While taping the Lodo dress from True Bias last week, it suddenly hit me that I could make it a lace-up by adding grommets to the V-neckline.

The pattern is quick to tape and cut. I added 2 inches to the length since it's drafted for a 5'5" woman and I'm 5'7". I cut a size 10 and graded to a 12 at the hip. It fits perfectly without any additional alterations.

The cocoon shape is really flattering and sure enough after cutting the fabric and basting it to check the fit, I was sold. 

 The stripes on the fabric were uneven so I almost thought I ruined it since it wasn't aligning properly with the pattern's grainline. I was relieved after basting it because it miraculously evened out with minimal stretching and stripe matching!

 Another interesting feature on the Lodo dress is that the facings are cut out of a woven fabric. I thought it was a clever idea and adds stability to the neckline and armholes and prevents the knit from stretching out. Because I was adding grommets, I interfaced the bottom part of the front neck facing for more stability.

After consulting my fellow sewists at a recent  Bay Area Sewists meetup, I went with gold grommets and a black cotton lace cord. In retrospect, a longer one would have been better. I'm planning on changing it to a longer length and add beads to the ends.

 Before sewing the side seams, I added the grommets. I wasn't sure how low the v-neck was and how many grommets to add on each side so I started with 2 and after trying it on a couple of times added 2 more. The construction is very easy as well. You really don't need a serger to complete this dress.

 I wore the dress twice already since completing it. I need to make another like yesterday!

Or maybe 2 or 3 

Thursday, May 11, 2017

Stripes and Eyelet Top Review: McCalls 7570

Wow! It's been a while since I've blogged! I'm still sewing but have been essentially posting my makes on Instagram. Toward the end of the year 2016, I've been productive and will eventually do a blog post on what I sewed. 

Homeschool life has taken a new turn for us since my older two joined a local Speech Club and started competitive speech. While it's a demanding activity, we're enjoying the road trips and attending various tournaments across the state. I also made a couple of tournament dresses for my middle one. 

I really look forward to summer so I can finally get some me time.

Here's the latest addition to my me-made striped tops. A few months ago, I discovered Sea, a new-to-me designer and fell in love with their fun and creative clothing line. They take eyelet fabric to the next level by mixing it up with different fabrics such as knits, French Terry, denim, lace, etc... My favorite one is the striped top with eyelet cuffs and a lace up back over an eyelet insert.

I was going to alter an existing top pattern when McCalls came up with the perfect pattern in their early summer collection: the McCalls 7570. It definitely saved me some drafting time. 
I then set out to find a light blue striped knit and some blue embroidered eyelet fabric. I scoured the internet to no avail until I had a light bulb moment while shopping at Old Navy. 

I found the perfect light blue medium weight striped knit dress and a buttery soft off-the-shoulder blue embroidered Tencel dress that I could just upcycle. They were both on sale so I grabbed the biggest size I could find. Total cost: $40. Not bad compared to the $300 price tag for the Sea top at Intermix or Shopbop.

The pattern fits right out the envelope with minor adjustments. I cut a size 12 and reduced the length by almost 4 inches due to my short torso and where I wanted the hem to fall. My other usual alteration is to reduce the sleeve cap by 1 inch. The back insert is gathered which makes the back neck seam bulky when attaching the back facing. Had I used a lighter fabric, the result would have been different. The front bodice has a binding.

This pattern calls for buttonholes on the back band where the ties lace up the back. I used grommets instead and had fun setting them in. I can't wait for my next project with grommets. 

I really like the fit of this pattern. It's very flattering!

I love this last picture! I debated over adding the pleated cuffs or not and finally decided they were a nice touch. After all, it is the Year of the Sleeve!

Until next time!

Friday, November 25, 2016

Simplicity 1366 Review : Bell-sleeve Striped Shift Dress.

Last summer I made the Vogue 1445 below and wondered why I avoided shift dresses for so long. They're actually very flattering and look great on various body types, including mine. I vowed to made more of them in the future.

When J Crew launched their spring collection this year, I was immediately drawn to their bell-sleeve striped top and dress. The entire collection is quite amazing!

I set out to replicate the dress with the leftover black and white ponte knit I had from the Vogue dress. I'm happy to report that I was able to squeeze this dress out of a little over a yard of fabric. As a result, it's a bit shorter than I would have liked but it's definitely not a deal breaker! I have been wearing it a lot.

I decided to look through my enormous pattern stash and found the Simplicity 1366 pattern by Cynthia Rowley. With its dropped sleeves and boat neck, it's the closest match for the inspiration dress. All I needed to do was to add some length to the front and back bodice and shorten the sleeve to incorporate the ruffle.

Easy peasy! About half way through though, I decided to add pockets. Out came my trusty snip-a-stitch scissors to the rescue! I quickly undid the sides seams in order to incorporate the pockets. I'm really glad I did because it's one of my favorite features on this dress apart from the sleeves.

What a great pattern this Simplicity 1366 is. No wonder it's so popular in the blogosphere! It's simple, stylish and last but not least it can be hacked easily! I mentioned earlier that I was short on fabric. I used a black ponte knit for the pockets and to bind the neck. Everything is a bit shorter since I had just enough fabric to make the entire dress.

This summer and late into fall, I wore it with flats and wedges. Now that the weather has cooled down a bit around here, I've been wearing it with tall boots or booties. I thing the length is no longer an issue for me.

I can't wait to sew this up again. I have wide stripe cream and navy knit that would be perfect to knock off the J Crew top version. I'm also thinking of making the top in lace with the view C cami. 

 While my goal in sewing is not to save money but rather to have clothes that fit and are well made, I am quite pleased with this low-cost project. This dress is probably one of the most inexpensive I've made. The J Crew one quickly sold out at the price tag of $98. Mine is less than $20.

I have completed a few stripe projects that I will be blogging about soon, so stay tuned!