Thursday, May 30, 2013

A-Line Sheath with Color Blocking

Have you ever been inexplicably excited about an very basic garment or project? Actually, that happens to me all the time.

This little dress resulted from the marriage of a goodly yard of ponte knit left over from the Walk the Dog skirt ($2.40/yard from a recent FabricMart clearance sale) with a find from the Goodwill-by-the-pound bins: a women's long sleeved mock turtleneck top in a heathered orange heavy weight cotton/spandex interlock. The top was brand new with its paper tags attached, and it was size XL. I paid around 50 cents for it. 

Despite its humble sourcing, I gave a lot of thought to what would constitute the highest and best use for my orange knit. It's not easy to find nice heavy cotton-rich knits by the yard, and I also really like the color. I nearly chose to make a skirt from the shirt. What an easy project that would be: cut off the sleeves, reshape the side seams, add an elastic waistband and go. I could have even kept the RTW hem. But there wasn't enough fabric to add much in the way of pockets, and the skirt would have been on the short side. 

Then I realized that the weight of the fabric was similar to my leftover bit of ponte. Since gray is not a flattering color near my face, I decided to position the orange up high and the gray down low. A search for color blocked ponte sheaths on Pinterest provided me with plenty of ideas on different ways the color blocking could work. 

The pattern is another humble resource, New Look 6700, which reeks 1990s but which has been the basis for several recent items: ruffled knit dresscozy t-shirt dresswhite t-shirtIvey Abitz-inspired cardigan and an ITY dress not yet photographed.

I tried to bring the orange down into the gray portion of the dress by using orange double needle topstitching at the pockets and hem. Do you think I should take this a little further by adding some orange buttons to the pockets (maybe covered buttons in the orange fabric)?

I bet I'll get lots of use out of this dress this summer: it's very comfortable, it feels covered up and it has a place for a phone.

Sunday, May 26, 2013

New Look 6097: The Nowhere to Hide Dress

Wrap dresses and I have a troubled history. I accept the prevailing view that the wrap feature is flattering, since it creates a diagonal line over the bust down to the hip. But the devil's in the finer details of the fit. Given that the wrapping section will never defy gravity, but rather will slip beneath the breast that it crosses over, it's difficult for a short-waisted person to achieve a reasonably modest fit.

And that brings me to another point: no matter how often I allow extra ease to avoid tightness, I end up taking it all back out in the end. An easy-fitting knit wrap dress gapes scandalously on me. So my efforts on this outing to grade up from the smallest size provided (10) at the upper chest and neckline to an easy 14 at the waist and hip resulted in a lot of trying on, ripping, sewing larger seam allowances, trying on, ripping...

All that adjusting means there's nowhere to hide in this dress. If it's not snug, it's totally indecent in another way. It will be interesting to see whether the positives (pockets, no wrinkles, forgiving print) will outweigh my reluctance to grab a more fitted dress from the lineup when I'm choosing something to wear in the mornings.

A positive of New Look 6097's drafting is that it uses pleats rather than gathers to form the ruching at the side seams. This always seems to work better for me, I think because it's more controlled. Can you see the surgical site at my eyebrow? It's healing well.

The bodice required quite a bit of shortening, 1 1/2", which I removed from the lower edge. In the back, I removed an additional 1/2" of length from the center back and 1/2" at the center of the skirt portion. That amounts to a full 1" removed for swayback, and it seems to have done the trick of getting rid of excess fabric at that location.

I had added to the side seams of the bodice to match up with a larger size for the skirt portion, and I took all out all the added width and more. From the widest point of my hips, this is a size 14, but above that it's probably an 8. Suffice it to say, my measurements do not correspond to a New Look size 8!

With a sweater or a jacket you can see the collar, which I really like. I did make it a bit narrower than drafted, and I feel it's still a bit too wide for me, but the presence of the collar helps me feel more covered up and polished.

This fabric is an ITY knit that was on sale from FabricMart for $2.80 a yard! I bought two yards in this print and two in a similar, somewhat coordinating print. From those four yards ($11.20), I've gotten two dresses and a top. Pretty good deal! It's not the prettiest design, but I do like the combination of colors and the lace sections of the motif.

Friday, May 10, 2013

Outfit Round-up: May 6 through 10

I haven't made a pledge to do Me Made May, but the outfit documenting spirit is in the air and so far it's been motivating me to take a picture almost every day.

Monday, May 6: Hi, I'm Your Substitute

Inspired-by-Vogue-8691 knit dress, Simple boots. A comfortable dress for my very first time ever substitute teaching--for middle school, no less! All I can say is, I did it and no one died.

Tuesday, May 7: Playing Freelancer at Home

Simplicity 9816 blouse, the orange version (green version discussed here),  Butterick 5649 button front denim skirt, orange cropped cardigan by MAK, navy ribbed tights from Target, Simple sneakers, J. Crew belt.

Wednesday, May 8

An oldie-but-goody: Simplicity 4171 shirt dress, MAK mustard cropped cardigan, me-made black elastic belt with purchased buckle, Munro American oxfords

Thursday, May 9: Stitches Removed

Vogue 1203 brand-new denim skirt, New Look 6071 dress worn as a top, Kwik Sew leopard print camisole, Joan & David vintage combat boots (from eBay), No-Nonsense tights, thrifted black belt

Friday, May 10: Substituting Again!

Indygo Junction Day to Night Dress/Burda 7560, me-made flower pin, Munro American oxfords

And next week, I'm booked to substitute on Monday and Tuesday. Let's see what teacher-ific combinations I can come up with for that.

Thursday, May 9, 2013

Vogue 1203: Another Denim Skirt

Can't. Stop. Making. Denim. Skirts.

I've made a flared version and then a straight version, but neither one has pockets. I love Beth of Sunny Gal Studio's versions of Simplicity 2152, but I don't have that pattern in my cabinet. It seemed silly to buy it, seeing as how I do have lots of paneled skirt patterns.

Which brings me to Vogue 1203, an out of print Tracy Reese design.

Somehow I remember that it was Eugenia's lovely version of this skirt, posted back in 2011, that prompted me to buy the pattern.

Plan: combine the 1203 skirt with pockets like the Simplicity 2152 design.

So, I'm not going to lie to you: the pockets are a little too low. But I love the skirt anyway! It has a different kind of contour waistband (not a yoke, like the Simplicity 2475 straight skirt I recently made). The band is narrower where it attaches to the skirt, and then it flares out above the waist. I had no idea how this would work for me, but it's great. It gives me the high-waisted effect with no binding.
Actually, I did have to tweak the fit at the waist during construction. Even though a 12 is usually about right for me, the waist of this skirt was really big. Hips were fine. But the waist was flopping about, and that wasn't going to work for this style. I removed 1" from either side at the center back, tapering back to the original seamline by the bottom of the zipper. Strange, huh?

But whatever, because now I love the way it fits.

As you can see, I didn't do the cool exposed zipper per the pattern. And thank goodness for that, because ripping it out to shrink the waist would not have been fun. The only 9" metal zipper I had was lilac. I stopped at the fabric store handiest to my house, and they only had 7" metal zippers. It seemed to me that 7" might not be quite long enough and I was right. The 9" invisible zipper only barely lets me in and out of the skirt. 11" would be better (and would that I had known that, since I shortened a longer zipper from my stash).

This fabric is, um, awesome. It's a 75% cotton, 25% bamboo denim from Waechter's. I was drawn to its combination of drape with substance. Love it. I only got one yard of 57" wide fabric, which did not turn out to be enough for a with-nap layout. I alternated the orientation of the pieces with no discernible ill effects.

With the skirt I am wearing a New Look 6071 dress, never before seen on this blog! Here is the dress on its own:


I made a matching camisole to wear underneath the dress, because it is cut way low! I adore this dress, but it doesn't make it out of the closet much (too sexy for my life!). I did wear it to my 25th high school reunion last fall, which was worth the making of it for sure. I'm happy to get into circulation today. I'm off to have stitches removed from my face. Two weeks ago I had a surgery to remove a squamous cell carcinoma from the outer part of my left eyebrow. Hence the headless photos! I haven't been able to wear much makeup, which looks rather washed out in pictures. I'll be back soon to show off my scar (which isn't so bad, and will surely fade a lot over time).

Saturday, May 4, 2013

A Chilly Spring Flower

Our gray and not-warm weather pattern has me stymied when it comes to dressing in a spring-like manner. This morning I couldn't help but pull down my box of winter woolens, which was waiting to be taken off to the attic for storage (a bad place for wool, but I've no other space for it) to find something cozy to wear today.

I've been "needing" a black flower pin/hair ornament, so I decided to make up a piece of black silk ribbon I've been saving for that purpose. I like it so well I'm tempted to pop over to Waechter's Silk Shop to buy some more colors. This ribbon is bias cut, so of course it is very amenable to manipulation. If I do make more, I'll take photos as I go to show how I put this one together. 

The actual warm parts of my outfit are the Ottobre 5/2009 knit wool dress, wool leggings from SmartWool, a purchased long sleeve black t-shirt and black short boots from (sadly) defunct Simple Shoes.

Friday, May 3, 2013

May Days Two and Three, and Vogue 8691

Thursday, May 2

Vogue 8691 by Katherine Tilton, and Kwik Sew 3115 bloomers

Rayon wool fabric from FabricMart

Fabric flowers incorporate some of the perforated selvedge, along with tiny black beads. The crossover collar is my adaptation.

Friday, May 3

Ottobre Woman Everywoman's Favorite Cardigan,  Simplicity 2475 denim straight skirt, Hue tights

New Look 6700 dress, adapted as a t-shirt (first appearance on blog)

New Look 6700 t-shirt, back view showing center back seam

Wednesday, May 1, 2013

Simplicity 9816 blouse + Weed the Garden skirt

Fitting a simple blouse isn't as simple as it should be, in my opinion. Only time will tell how this latest effort will work out. For today, I'm mildly pleased with this top and its sister, a cantaloupe-colored version.

A convertible collar is one of my favorites; it has the substance of a real collar, it isn't too frilly or girly, it frames the face, and yet it doesn't sit up high enough on the neck to interfere with hair or get makeup rubbed on it from the chin. This blouse pattern is a basic convertible collar offering, Simplicity 9816, now out of print. My copy came from the thrift store; it was 10 cents! This must have been one of Simplicity's earlier cup-sized patterns.

I have finally learned that the cup sizing should not be taken too literally. Even though I wear a D cup bra size, the D pieces give too much room in the bust for me. C is just right.

I think roundness at the upper back (which surely isn't getting any less as I get older, let me tell you) is at the root of my blouse-fitting challenges. I really want to master adjusting a yoked shirt pattern for this issue, but I thought it would be sensible to achieve a good fit on a non-yoked pattern first. Since my fabric is a very nice seersucker (from FabricMart, what isn't?) with a stripe, I didn't really want a center back seam. Threads has a great alteration tutorial with an awful name: The Dowager's Hump. Even though this article covers the various possible approaches to altering for this problem in a more comprehensive way than Fit for Real People, it's hard to look that truth in the face.

Oh well, Threads showed me how to add length at the upper back and then add neckline darts to do the High Round Back alteration without using a center back seam.

I still feel a little restriction at the sleeves, though. I may need to add a bit of width to the back at the mid-armhole level. Or something.

The collar turned out well! I narrowed it 5/8" from the original pattern, and really, I might even narrow it some more for future efforts. Patterns generally only vary the length of the collar (the part that goes around the neck opening) with the different sizes, not the width. Which doesn't make much sense, considering that my shoulders are a good three or four inches narrower than the largest size for this pattern.

Other adjustments were to shorten the blouse 1 1/2" and to omit the front darts.

I'm wearing it this first day of May with another recent item, a cousin to my Walk the Dog skirt. The mud color of this fabric (a verrry stiff cotton canvas by Marc Jacobs by way of FabricMart) makes it appropriate to utilitarian uses, so I am thinking of it as a Weed the Garden skirt.

The main thing is, it has pockets. Nothing else matters that much.