Wednesday, November 26, 2014

The Fabric Inspiration Dress

The inspiration for this dress was discussed in this post.  The fabric really drove the creation of this dress.

This is a perfect work dress and I love the empire waist silhouette on me. Since this is a second make of a variation of my TNT dress pattern, there aren't any construction changes.

However, I did layer the mesh and pinstripe fabric for the dress' empire top and took a few pictures of the construction process:

Dart traced on the bodice front

Mesh piece pinned to the pinstripe top

Mesh and pinstripe fabric backs pinned together

Front bodice and skirt sewn together

Inserting the invisible zipper
marking the zipper to match the sides 

...and even with the marking, I was an 1/8" off in the end

Basted the sides together to insure that 
they would match when machine stitched

I love the play of the mesh printed top versus the pinstripe skirt and how it really works in my "Creative Corporate" dressing theme. 

A few more pictures of the dress ~

I do have two more yards of the pinstripe fabric left and I want to make the shorter jacket from this out-of-print pattern - Butterick 5535 - purchased in August 2010.

I will probably sew it sooner rather than later...just have to make a few decisions about whether to line it or not, add embellishments and what type of buttons to use.  I'd really like the dress and jacket to be coordinates that can be worn together.

Thanksgiving is tomorrow in the US. This year I'm off the Friday after Thanksgiving, working the Friday after Christmas, because my firm is open both days. I will have the grandbabies with me Friday, since my daughter and SIL both have to work. However, I will be in the sewing cave for the rest of the weekend. I can't wait! always more later!

Monday, November 24, 2014

McCalls 6844 in Pictures

I thought I'd share some pictures of me wearing the McCalls 6844 sweater jacket. The dress is my Bubble Dress made at the end of the summer & worn with the jacket. All construction information for the sweater jacket is in this post. Warning: this post is a little picture heavy! 

Here is how I will wear it to work...

Close up of the collar and cuffs

This is how I will wear it out...

...since it's holiday time and I tend to go out with friends more during this time of the is how I will wear it out.

Love how the sweater jacket dips 
a little lower in the back!

...and it covers the important parts! 

I'm wearing the McCalls 6844 cardigan with a bow-tied version of the Sewing Workshop Mission Tank and RTW leggings.  

Honestly, this is a new closer look than I've normally worn.  The recent weight loss made this outfit possible...however, it's also playing havoc with my sewing. All of the side seams on garments have to be adjusted for the inches lost. I know I should be happy but I'm seriously stressing! *LOL*

This is what I'm working on next ~

I pinned this to one of my boards on Pinterest, saw it last week during the cold snap and thought I would love to have this sweater jacket to wear this winter. 

Pulled this gray/white ponte from the collection and will add two silver closures that I found at Pacific Trimmings at the neckline and at the bustline also possibly some patch pockets. 

I will use this Vogue 8840 pattern which is sadly out of print...

...yes, I'm totally influenced by the pretty jackets that Nikki from Beaute' J'adore just made.

One final picture...of me and Miss Sammy who is 10 months old now and is the sweetest baby evah! Seriously, she has the sweetest disposition so totally different from her brother and sister.

Up next is The Fabric Inspiration Dress... always more later!

Saturday, November 22, 2014


I was flipping through the blog looking for a post when I flipped into my posts from last November where I was discussing my new Canon and the frustrations of trying to learn how to use it.

Now one year later, I've mastered taking my own photos with the tripod and even my daughter has become comfortable taking pictures with the Rebel. Quite a few YouTube videos, a lot of begging for info on how to best take pictures, lots of visits to sites on the internet and the willingness to persevere, has resulted in better pictures...well at least I hope they are! *LOL*

One of the first pics on the new camera
Why did we think we could take them at night? 

During the winter, I primarily stuck to pictures in front of the fireplace in my living room.  In the spring and summer, my daughter and I have moved to outside the front door of my condo...finally venturing a little further from my front door by walking to the kiddie park to photograph my garments. 

One of my favorite pictures - loved the sun dappling
and how the focus is on my face versus the dress

I'm finally starting to see "pretty pictures" in my mind, which I think you need to be able to take great photographs. Not that I take great photographs, but my daughter and I are trying. I've learned a little about backgrounds, lighting, the best time to take photos and to take loads of pictures to end up with 3 or 4 good ones.  Seriously, we take about 50 photos (at least) to get a couple of good ones. It's amazing how many funny faces I make when we're taking pics...*LOL*

Loved the color of the foliage on this tree and just wanted a pic in front of it!
Love how the tree is framed in the background of the pic...

Originally I was using the camera's timer to take pictures, walking back and forth in 10 seconds, to take a shot.  I finally bought a Canon remote control, and figured out how to work it, which felt like a major breakthrough!  So I will be using the remote going forward and I'm pretty excited about that.

Here are a few pictures taken during the year - from worse to better! *LOL*

At the very beginning

Learning to crop and get what I need

Serious cropping

Getting better but still cropping

Learned to take better close-ups

Natural light is best!

It's cold here on the East Coast again, so I think the Muse Dress will probably be one of the last garments we shoot outside.  Also since I'm back inside I will probably be taking a lot of the shots myself.  I'm still "shy" about setting up the camera and using the remote outdoors but inside, well hey, it's just me!

Anyway, I thought it would be great to update my camera journey and share my daughter's and my own progress... always more later!

Monday, November 17, 2014

McCalls 6844 - A Ponte Cardigan

I wanted to do something different this weekend and I've been wanting to try this pattern out for awhile...

I decided to make it up in some of the black ponte that arrived from Fabric Mart a couple of weeks ago.  Of course, I couldn't leave well enough alone and added a liquidy leather type fabric from the collection for the shawl collar and as part of the sleeves.

Here it is pictured on Lulu...

This is a simple sew...seriously simple.  The challenge is in getting the fit right, especially since in some of the 92 reviews of this cardigan on Patternreview, they state that the pattern runs big.

Pattern Construction ~

  • I cut version A in a size XXL which fit me through the body without any alterations. 
  • The sleeve bicep measurement is exactly what my bicep measurement is, so I decided to sew it as the pattern states instead of making alterations to the pattern first. 
  • The finished sleeve is snug, but not uncomfortable, so I will make a very slight alteration for the next version.
  • I did alter the shoulder seam to shorten it. However, I will shave another smidgen off for future versions.
  • The shawl collar was pressed flat. The pattern has it roll loosely but I wanted a more set collar.
  • I also tacked the collar down at the shoulder seam, at the hemline, and in the bust area so that the collar would stay flat all the time.

Of course there will be more versions, especially since I really want to make this in both views B and D. 

Design Details ~

  • I sewed the pattern just as the pattern instructions stated okay almost as they instructed because I made a few design changes.  
  • I used a liquidy pleather like fabric from "The Collection" for the top of the shawl collar.
  • The liquidy pleather was also used as part of the sleeve hems to carry it through the cardigan.
  • Finally I added four lines of straight stitching to the hem area of the sleeve just 'cause I thought it was cute.

A few more thoughts ~
I hate set in sleeves in knit garments.  I won't do that again. I think you get a better look when you insert the sleeves flat but I did want to sew the pattern at least once the way the instructions were written.

I love the curved hem on the back and how it's just a little longer than the front. This will work great over separates ~ a top and skirt or top and pants combo and of course it will work over quite a few of my dresses.

Other than that, it was an easy sew. I've already dreamed up my next project using this pattern which will show up here sooner or later!

Here are more pics of the cardigan on Lulu...

Jacket worn with a version of the Sewing Workshop Mission Top

Sewing Workshop Mission Top with a bow tie blogged here

Back of the cardigan

The pinstripe and mesh dress still need to be completed. I was in the mood for simple.  So I sewed simple because there is always next weekend. always more later!

Friday, November 14, 2014

Fabric Inspiration

Let me tell you how this latest fabric combination came to be...

First, I was browsing my favorite internet fabric site...say it with me, Fabric Mart! *LOL*  And I picked the navy blue (not so navy blue in the shot below) wool stretch suiting.  I'm tired of my black work suits and wanted something a little more "Creative Corporate" to replace one with so I put four yards into the cart...along with the other fabrics that came to visit.

Then the next day (because my day is not complete without a visit to Fabric Mart) I saw the blue mesh and thought, "Wow! That would really play nice with the navy blue pinstripe!"  I quickly called Fabric Mart and asked if they could include a yard in my package - that was already cut and sealed - though they didn't tell me that! Instead they said, of course (best customer service evah!) and added it to my package.

Seriously when the package arrived, it was taped to the outside of the package! But this combination is amazing and so pretty in real life! 

These pieces didn't even make it onto the fabric shelves...they were placed right on the cutting table. I'm using the empire waist/square neckline version of my TNT dress to make another version of the dress...

...last made here. The first version was also inspired by fabric, guess this dress silhouette is just determined by fabric choices for me. I will check the width on this version although I'm less worried about it since it already fit a little closer to my body than some of my other dresses.

Here's how far I've gotten with it...

So this is what I'll be working on this weekend! always more later!

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Can we talk about sewing for our lifestyles?

Many times someone leaves a comment or sends me an email with some semblance of this phrase in it..."you really know your style and sew for it." It is true but it's true because I have one rule that I abide by when I sew.


So a few givens:
  • I love a dress. I'm happiest wearing one and feel most confident in some combination of a dress/cardigan and/or jacket.
  • I believe that a straight up and down look works best on my frame. The more it elongates me, the better I look.
  • Use as much color as I can manage for my workplace.
  • Add details - details set my garments apart from my co-workers since RTW tends to skimp on the details.
  • Stay just within the confines of what's acceptable for the conservative atmosphere of my workplace.
...finally make sure that I abide by my five rules above. However, when I'm surfing the sewing blogosphere and I see some of the amazing things my fellow sewists are making, my creative side comes bounding to the surface pleading with me to sew just one of those things.  

Truly I'm tempted. To take just one giant flight of fancy ~ plan some awesome artsy dress, coat, pair of pants or use a pattern that I normally wouldn't use and I think about fabric, color, embellishments. I'm pretty far down that creative road when I come to a screeching halt because I ask myself the question, "Where would I wear it?"

Seriously just like that I'm shut down...down...and out for the count! Because at this point in my life my sewing time is limited...therefore very precious to me. I don't want to spend weekends sewing something I won't wear. I'm not thrilled at the infrequent times it does happen. So while I'm sure that I'd enjoy the creative sewing journey but if I won't wear it in the end, what's the point? Why did I make it?  Why did I waste my valuable sewing time? 

These are the thoughts that go through my head...but what about you?  Do you sew for the life you lead or the one you want to lead? Are you influenced by the amazing garments you've seen on the internet?  Do you buy a pattern because of another's success with it, even though you know it won't work for your lifestyle? Or is it something different?  Is it because you haven't quite figured out your style so you emulate others? Trying on different hats/styles/patterns hoping to make them work for you?

Talk back to me because this is the "Question of the Day!"  BTW, I've listed a few of the amazingly, wonderful, creative garments that's been rocking my world lately!

...always more later!

Sunday, November 09, 2014

Muse - Final

I started making my Muse dress interpretation with Vogue 8805, which I've obsessed over since it was released in 2012. I've even blogged about it a couple of times here. I thought I'd have to make several alterations to the pattern but after I finally located it in the sewing cave, I saw that I'd already altered the front pattern pieces.

See even though I really wanted to make this pattern, I'd never found the "right" fabrics to emulate the Preen designer dress I admired. Since I'm never lacking for an idea to sew/create, after awhile I just moved on and totally forgot what work I'd done with the pattern.

So some stats:
Fabric ~
Black pleather originally purchased from Sawyer Brook
Blue cotton ponte purchased from Mood NYC
Black 'n white cotton from the collection - I honestly don't remember where this came from.

Notions ~
18" gold zipper from Pacific Trimmings
bias binding
stitch witchery

Pattern Alterations:
  • Originally I used my TNT dress pattern to alter the pattern pieces.
  • To get the look of the original dress, there was one additional alteration to make to the pattern front. It was for the blue color band on the front of the dress.  I made the center of the band 3" with a 5/8" seamline on the top and bottom of the pieces. (see pics below)  
  • I also added 2" to the hemline of the sleeve.
  • I added a 5/8" seamline to the center back pattern piece - to change it from a cut on fold back piece.
  • The middle and bottom pieces were taped together to form one pattern piece.

Pattern Alteration Pics:
Dress front with width added 
and line drawn to cut off the band

Band cut off and 5/8" seam allowances added to both pieces

Connecting the middle and lower bands together
 to form one dress front piece

Construction Techniques:
  • I changed the back of the dress from a loop and button closing to a zippered closure. 
  • That meant adding a center back seam to the dress' back pattern pieces.
  • My zipper choice was a gold plated one that I'd picked up from Pacific Trimmings. I don't really like the exposed zippers with the zipper tape on the outside of a garment. So I only exposed the teeth from the zipper.
  • Because of the pleather used in the top of the garment, I installed the zipper by hand...exposing the amount of zipper teeth that I wanted...yet not having to worry about machine stitching through the pleather.
  • I've lost 30 lbs in the last year and that means that my TNT dress is a little large on me. So the original pattern alterations I made were for a dress a lot looser than I wanted. I ended up sewing one inch side seams, trying the dress on, and then taking in another 1/2 inch.
  • The dress' shape is still boxy but it doesn't look like I'm wearing the wrong size.
  • The dress is unlined.  The pattern doesn't call for a lining and for once I followed the pattern. I will wear a slip with the dress.
  • The neckline is finished with a bias tape finish. After some internal debate I went with some stitch witchery to hold it flat and then I hand stitched the bias binding down.
  • Since the yoke forms the sleeves and I've made it in pleather, I've opted to leave the sleeve hems unfinished. There's no need to do anything to them since the pleather won't fray.
  • The dress hem has stitch witchery in it but I also added a line of machine stitching to the hem.

Construction Pics:
Dress front sewn together

Gold zipper pinned into the dress back

Dress back and yoke assembled

Inserting the binding around the neckline 
...with the handstitching to hold it flat

A few more pics of the dress:

I like the finished dress. It's a little edgy ~ hey anything with pleather on the top and the sleeves ain't exactly corporate ~ the black and white ponte bottom though gives it the corporate "Creative Corporate."

It's an easy dress to sew. It just took me so long to complete for a variety of reasons. However, I'm glad that it's finally done and hanging in the closet, waiting to wear.

Parting Shots:
The shots above were taken on our way to the kiddie playground in my complex. My daughter shot pics all along the route including some of the grandkids. I've included these two as parting shots... always more later!


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