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Completed: The Striped Button-Down

14 Apr

A couple of weeks ago, Landon and I went to the mall – specifically, Gap – to find him a new pair of jeans. While we were browsing around (well, he was browsing – I just kind of lurking and judging the shit out of everything SORRY), I came across this stripey button-down goodness. I was mostly enamored with the horizontal stripes – loose fitting shirts aren’t so much my bag, and besides, those long sleeves would get worn for about two weeks in this climate – so I thought I’d make my own with a few modifications.

Butterick 5526 - stripes!

And make it I did! Woohoo!

Butterick 5526 - stripes!

This was definitely a waffling sort of project – I waffled on what style of shirt to cut, I waffled on stripe direction, I waffled on sleeve length, and I waffled on buttons. Fortunately, everything came together quite well and I’m super pleased with the end result!

Butterick 5526 - stripes!

I started out with my base pattern, Butterick 5526, since I knew this little dude already fit me pretty well. I knew I’d be using this pattern from the start, but what I waffled on was which view to cut – straight lines or princess seams? Obviously the straight, less fitted view would be more true to the original inspiration – not to mention easier to cut and match up those stripes. However, I don’t really like weight loose-fitting clothing – and when I do, it either better be something super drapey (which this shirting fabric is not) or, like, the dead of winter. Princess seams were the next option, which seemed like a good idea until I realized that the stripes would start staggering over the bust and not match up properly as a result. I considered cutting the stripes vertically, until I realized THAT would even be a hotter mess – plus, the horizontal stripes are what drew me to the shirt in the first place.

Butterick 5526 - stripes!

I took a sewing break to watch some infomericals, and thus realized the answer to my problem:

Butterick 5526 - stripes!

POCKETS!

Hell yeah Imma slap a pocket right over those broken stripes and NO ONE WILL BE THE WISER.

Butterick 5526 - stripes!

So. Let’s talk about horizontal stripes across princess seams. As you can see here – it *can* be done. Obviously the stripes won’t match all the way to the top of the seam, but you can cover the worst parts with a pocket, or just pretend they’re not there. I cut all my fabric on the single layer and I’m pretty happy with how my stripe-matching turned out – if you stand back and squint, you can’t even tell that there are seams down the front of my shirt! Yeah!!

Butterick 5526 - stripes!

I used this Marc Jacobs red striped cotton shirting from Mood Fabrics to make my stripey shirt. You’ll probably notice that the stripes in the picture are vertical – I had to cut the pattern on the cross grain to get those horizontal stripes. Doing so sacrificed the tiny (like, super super miniscule at best) amount of stretch on the grain, but I think the shirt fits fine as it is. Fair warning if you are working with a more fitted pattern – take the lack of stretch into account if you’re cutting on the crossgrain.

Butterick 5526 - stripes!

Butterick 5526 - stripes!

To match up the stripes, I just sewed reeeeally really carefully (after accurate cutting, I should add!). I really love sewing plaids and stripes – I find the challenge refreshing, and the end result is SO freaking gratifying!

Butterick 5526 - stripes!

If you’re at all familiar with this Butterick pattern, you’ll know that it doesn’t come with an option for short sleeves – just long, and 3/4 length (or, rather, on me – almost-but-not-quite-full-length, wtf). Also, the sleeves in this pattern kiiiinda suck – they’re really huge and wide, and the sleeve cap has waaay too much ease, at least for the princess seamed version (the plain version has a lower armsyce, since it’s more loose-fitting. My guess is that Butterick didn’t feel it was necessary to redraft the sleeves to fit the princess version, which is lame and shitty and boo on you, Butterick).

Butterick 5526 - stripes!

Reducing the sleeve cap ease was easy – I just followed Casey’s method. Figuring out how to get my beloved fitted, short sleeve started another bout of waffling. I waffled on sleeve length, I waffled on fit, I waffled on whether or not to add a cuff. In the end, I took about 1/2″ off each side of the sleeve seam, and put the sleeve on and marked where I wanted it to hit. I finished it with a 5/8″ narrow hem. It’s pretty simple, but sometimes simple is the best option, yeah?

Butterick 5526 - stripes!

The only thing I would change for the next round is to lower the pockets – I went with the markings on the pattern, but I think they are a little too high and should be about 1″ lower.

Butterick 5526 - stripes!

Butterick 5526 - stripes!

The pockets were REALLY fun to sew, by the way! Lots of ironing little creases, and turning sharp points, and precise topstitching (my favorite!). I just love how they look, especially with the little pleat in the middle.

Butterick 5526 - stripes!

As with my previous shirt, the seams are finished with a simple serge (I generally prefer flat-felled seams on this style of shirt, but flat-felling princess seams is NOT something I want to try to attempt right now!) and topstitched with a slightly longer stitch length. Besides the trauma of cutting and matching all those pieces, the actual construction of this shirt came together pretty quickly.

Also, I should note that I totally boringed-out on the buttons for this guy, and went with plain off-white shirt buttons. I like the way they look, though! :)

Butterick 5526 - stripes!

And I just love how it turned out! Simple, summery, and a little nautical – without looking costume-y. A win in my book!

As a side note – I mentioned this on Twitter and Instagram last week, but in case you haven’t heard – I’m teaching Introduction to Fashion Sewing this summer at Watkins College of Art, Design & Film! The 9 week class runs all the way through June and July, and I’m so excited about it! Nashvillians, if you’re interested – you can see the summer course catalog here (I’m aaaall the way toward the end, on page 13). Yeeeah summer crafty time! :D

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Completed: Chevron’d Ginger Skirt

4 Apr

Here’s another piece that I have seriously been planning for a couple of years – the chevron’d Ginger skirt!

Ginger Skirt - chevrons

Another stupendous idea delayed by lack of fabric – why why whyyyy is it so hard to find a good, 1″ stripe, non-stretch fabric, apparel-weight? Whyyy? I find lots of striped shirting fabrics (too lightweight, stripes too narrow), striped stretch twill (holding out for the lycra-less, pls), striped knit (ok, yes please, but not for this particular project!), or stripes in some kind of weird array of colors. Not to mention the overabundance of home decor striped fabric – but I’ve found I just don’t like all the structure that comes with home decor weight. My ass is not meant for curtains to hang off of it.

Ginger Skirt - chevrons

I was PRETTY FREAKING EXCITED when I found this fabric at last month’s flea. Hiding under a pile of vintage fabrics (all good, I bought nearly all of them lolz) were 4 yards of my dream yellow-and-white-1″-striped-cotton. In a rare unselfish move on my part, I ripped the yardage in half and sent 2 yards to Sunni (who I was doing a great fabric swap with earlier this month and holyyyy shit you guys I cannot wait to start digging into the lovely stuff she sent me!), keeping the other 2 yards for myself and this skirt. And here she is – finally, the striped/chevron’d skirt of my dreams!

Ginger Skirt - chevrons

As I mentioned before, this is the Ginger from Colette Patterns. I made view 3, which gave my striped fabric a nice chevron. I know chevrons are REALLY hip right now (and every time I pass something chevron’d at Target, I groan. A lot.), like to the point of already looking super trendy and dated, but I do like them for clothing. I’d say something like I hope they never go out of style, but I pretty much wear whatever I want regardless, so let’s just say I hope I can continue finding good striped fabric to make my own! Hopefully more frequent than once every couple of years :)

Ginger Skirt - chevrons

I’ve made this skirt a few times before, so this definitely ain’t my first rodeo, but I did have to size down since my previous versions don’t fit me anymore (well, maybe the Gazer does. I haven’t pulled that one out of summer storage yet to check). I cut the pieces on a single layer so I could be really accurate with lining up those stripes, and it (mostly)paid off.

Ginger Skirt - chevrons

I even went as far as to center the yellow vertical stripe in the middle of the waistband, so everything would be nice and balanced.

Now that you’ve seen the gorgeous, time to share my shame…

Ginger Skirt - chevrons

Kind of bummed that the chevrons on the side seams don’t match up :( I actually think it looks much much better in these photos vs real life (and since I took these photos, I have worn the skirt and been totally ok with the barely-matched-up side seams). Like I said. I did a very careful job of cutting everything out on the single layer, but the way this skirt is shaped means that you either get the fabric on-grain, or the side seams match all the way up to the waistband. One or the other, make your choice! I decided the grain was more important – plus, they kinda sorta match, right? :)

The other shame is that dammed invisible zipper! Guysss, inserting an invisible zip into a bias-cut garment isn’t the easiest thing you’ll ever do. I stabilized my seam allowances with 1 1/4″ wide stripes of silk organza cut on the straight grain, and the zipper is ALMOST perfect, but there is a tiny bubble at the bottom. I’m trying to decide if it bothers me enough to rip it out and fix it. Eh. It looks pretty bad in that picture!

Ginger Skirt - chevrons

But, you know, issues aside – it’s a fun skirt! And it’s fun to wear, although I do feel like I’m exposing myself every time I bend over to pick something up. Bias cut rides up all kind weird.

Ginger Skirt - chevrons

Ginger Skirt - chevrons

This fabric was also kind of weird, amazing as it is. When I first grabbed it, it felt like a great bottom weight – slightly stiff, a bit of body, a subtle sheen. After the prewash, however, the fabric majorly softened up and weight-wise, it felt a lot more like quilting cotton. I was hesitant at first, as I wanted a stiffer shape to my skirt, but I’m pretty happy with how the drape of the fabric looks with the bis cut. The only drawback was that those bias sides stretched a loooooot. Like, so much. That’s probably a good part of the reason why the side seams don’t match up so nicely.

Ginger Skirt - chevrons

Ginger Skirt - chevrons

To give the waistband some structure, I interfaced the outside with my normal fusible interfacing, and sewed hair canvas to the facing. While this particular waistband isn’t quite as high as the other views on the pattern – and it’s not shaped, either – I still didn’t want it to crumble when I bent over. Not a good look!

Ginger Skirt - chevrons

Ginger Skirt - chevrons

Oh yeah, I used the bicycle fabric left over from this dress to face the inside of the waistband. It’s a cute little surprise!

Ginger Skirt - chevrons

I also used the last of my yellow lace hem binding for the hem. Side note – the packaging for this stuff (it’s from the 70s) boasts that it’s “Like Pretty Underwear!” which makes me laugh every time.

Ginger Skirt - chevrons

So that’s it! Simple skirt, simple fabric – but I love the results! I guess I’m on a major skirt kick right now; I’ve got anther one cut out waiting for assembly as I type this.

As a side note – the shirt I’m wearing is my button down from this outfit. I LOVE this shit and I’ve worn it soo many times since completing it! The reason why I’m pointing it out, though, is because this is what the shirt looks like after a wash with no ironing – I just shook it out and hung it to dry. It has some subtle wrinkles, but nothing crazy – it kind of reminds me of linen with how the wrinkles just look relaxed and natural. Except it’s cotton! Pretty cool; I love getting away with not ironing my clothes ;)

Completed: The Tie-less Miette

31 Mar

Ever since I made up my my first version of Tilly’s Miette wrap skirt, I’ve been meaning to make a second one. Isn’t that how it is, though? You find a pattern you like, you vow to make another one post haste, and it falls to the backburner in favor of something more *new* (I’m the same way with knitting socks. I’ve been meaning to knit a pair since I started knitting, but I keep getting seduced by gorgeous sweater patterns. Someday, I guess!). Miette fell by the wayside for, oh, a year.

Red Miette - no ties

What’s even dumber is that I finally sat down and made that shit up, and it took me all of two hours. Oh, priorities.

Red Miette - no ties

So, back to Miette. Like I said, I’ve made this pattern before – and I still wear it aaaaall the time. That polka dot fabric goes with everything as far as I’m concerned, and it’s a great skirt for “oooh I have nothing to wear” because any top you wear with it looks instantly polished. I wish Mood Fabrics still had some of that navy, by the way. I tried to find it in the store while I was there a couple of weeks ago but all they had left was brown with white polka dots (which I totally bought, by the way).

Red Miette - no ties

This fabric in question is Organic Cotton Twill. It was one of the first things I grabbed in my first NYC-Mood-store-run (I also bought some navy because, c’mon, it’s just beautiful), and one of the only *basic* fabrics I bought the entire weekend (truth, I realized I should save my money & suitcase space for stuff that’s more special/can’t be later bought online). I love this stuff; it’s the same twill I made my skinny red Thurlows with, and I can personally vouch that it wears and washes beautifully. The only drawback is that it also attracts thread and cat hair like it’s going out of style. Oh well, you win some, you lose some.

Red Miette - no ties

Back to the skirt. The only thing I didn’t care much for in the original pattern was the waist ties. I knowwww, the waist ties are basically the whole point of the damn pattern! But on me, I always felt like they looked a little too twee and added too much bulk to my waist. I usually wear the bow tied to the back (it’s a tiny bow, but I make it work, dammit!), which is fine, but it means I can’t wear belts with the skirt. Y’all know how much I love abusing my belt privileges, too. I briefly experimented with tucking the ties in the waistband so I could put a belt over it, but that added even more bulk.

Red Miette - no ties

So I just made the skirt without the damn ties. Instant win!

Red Miette - no ties

This was sooo easy. Using my original skirt as reference, I sewed up the 3 waistband pieces as normal and attached them to the top of the skirt. Before I sewed the facing on, I tried on the skirt and measured how much waistband to cut off to get a good fit (the waistband does not sit completely in line with the skirt top; there’s some excess on either side). I wanted the underlap to have about 1.5″ of excess, and the overlap to be completely flush with the skirt. After I finished the waistband (sewing it as you would normally sew a plain waistband), I sewed a button hole + button to both the underlap and over lap. easy!

Red Miette - no ties

Red Miette - no ties

The inside of this skirt is very plain. I just serged all my seams, pressed them open, and topstitched them down. The topstitching helps keep the seams open (one thing I always need to re-press with my former Miette), and makes the skirt look more casual.

Red Miette - no ties

I think the pooling at the back is due to how I’m standing, btw. After seeing these photos, I checked in the mirror and that shit is smooth.

Red Miette - no ties

This is a great, full-coverage wrap skirt. I can personally vouch that I’ve worn my other Miette on some SUPER windy days and that shit stays put. I also ride a bike in this skirt, no fear of flashing! The fact that it wraps in the back helps things stay perfectly in place.

Red Miette - no ties

Also, in case you were wondering – I did make my tshirt as well! It’s a Renfrew, and the fabric is from Elizabeth. It’s a bit on the sheer side (ok, a LOT on the sheer side hahah), but it’s great for layering during this weird, fickle season. This is the same top I wore during the NYC meet-up, btw. I have lots of handmades like this – basic, simple, didn’t take a lot of time to sew up – and I’m reluctant to post them because it just seems like a such a boring post on my end. This is not to say that I think people who post about a tshirt are making a boring post – I love reading that kind of stuff! But I personally make soo many, it just seems really redundant for me to keep posting the same pattern over and over. So I try to sneak them in posts like this. A twofer, if you will. lolz.

Red Miette - no ties

Huh, I guess I should clean the lens of my camera tho.

Red Miette - no ties

Um. Sorry in advance for all the cat hair you’re about to see :X

Red Miette - no ties

Topstitching! For this, I used my blind hem foot and stuck the little blade in the ditch, then stitched down each side (single needle). This gave me a perfectly straight line that mirrors both sides :) With my topstitching, I also like to increase the stitch length a bit (going from 2.5 to 3), as I think it looks a bit nicer.

Red Miette - no ties

Decorative button at the over lap.

Red Miette - no ties

Plain button at the underlap.

Red Miette - no ties

So there you go! Plain Miette, perfect wardrobe basic that I assure you will get worn a LOT this summer. I just love making wardrobe basics; I know the pretty/fancy stuff is more interesting to make for some people, but I really find a good basic to be a great way to work on really perfecting my technique. Plus, unlike fancy piece – this shit gets worn to death.

What about you? Do you like making basics? Or are you a special-occasion-only sewer?

Completed: Runway-Inspired Separates

25 Mar

So, everyone at the Mood Sewing Network decided a couple of months ago that we would challenge ourselves to make pieces that were inspired by the Spring 2014 runway. Real talk: this shit sent me into a panic. Runway? I can honestly say I have never even so much as glanced at a series of runway photos, let alone determined an outfit based on what I saw (I’m not saying this in an ~ooh, I’m so cool I just don’t even pay attention to fashion~ way, more like, yo clueless!). Furthermore, it’s difficult for me to grab “inspiration” from something without just blatantly copying it. I spent an entire month agonizing over designers, pouring over runway sets at style.com (holy crap, there are a lot of them) and wringing my hands over what to make.

Butterick 5526 & Kelly skirt, made with Mood Fabrics

Then I discovered Alberta Ferretti.

Alberta Ferretti Spring 2014

I still don’t know who this designer is, exactly, but the entire runway show is magical. Bright, saturated colors! Crisp white accents! Flowers! Stripes! This is the kind of inspiration I can get behind! I decided to make myself a *wearable* (emphasis on wearable ;)) version of my favorite look.

Butterick 5526 & Kelly skirt, made with Mood Fabrics

Figuring out the fabric and patterns I would use was almost as difficult as picking a designer! I knew I wanted to make a striped skirt with pleats similar to the runway version, because I just really love how that turned out (plus, who doesn’t love a good striped skirt?), but finding a good striped fabric on the Mood Fabrics website was haaard. I mean, they have all sorts of good stripes to choose from – but very little in that specific combination of wide, irregular stripes in bright saturated colors. I know, I know – this is supposed to be an inspiration, not a literal interpretation. But dangit, I wanted those irregular stripes!

Butterick 5526 & Kelly skirt, made with Mood Fabrics

I’m not going to tell you how long I spent picking through the Mood website with a fine-tooth comb; let’s just say I probably know every apparel fabric they sell now. I did finally find my big prize, though – this amazingly bright orange stripe cotton sateen is the clear winner. Woohoo! Of course, it clashes with my hair like big time crazy bad, but whatever, I picked all this shit out pre-blue LT. Anyway, I just love love LOVE the bright colors of the stripes – it’s not quite the same colors as the inspiration skirt – it’s way more happy springy! Yay spring colors!

Butterick 5526 & Kelly skirt, made with Mood Fabrics

I was originally going to make the fabric in a skirt that is more similar to the runway inspiration – no button front + pleats all the way around – but at the very last minute (like, right before I cut into the fabric, lolz), I changed my mind and decided to go with a pattern I knew I would actually wear and love. Enter the Kelly skirt! Cutting that shit took forever, btw. I agonized for a long time on how to cut the stripes – where each color and wide stripe should hit. I used the inspiration photo to help me decide how to cut the waistband (it was originally going to be a mess of stripes on it’s own, but I like it as one solid, thick stripe!), and was careful to match up the stripes along the side seams, the button front, and the pockets. Like I said, it took forever, but once I got the pieces cut, the actual assembly took no time at all.

Butterick 5526 & Kelly skirt, made with Mood Fabrics

The fabric is described as a lightweight cotton sateen, but it’s weighty enough to work as a bottom weight. There is definitely some texture in the weave, and it stretches quite a bit. I made sure to stabilize the waistband and button placket so the fabric would keep it’s shape in those areas, and used a long stitch on my machine for all the topstitching. It presses very well – really easy to get a sharp crease in there, yeah! – but it also tends to leave pin holes. For areas that needed to be pinned together and topstitched (such as the button band and inside of the waistband), I fused the pieces with a long strip of stitch witchery instead of pinning; this keeps everything in place and makes topstitching SO much easier! Especially if you tend to miss spots and only discover them after you’ve finished topstitching the seam, which means they gotta be ripped out and restitched so you catch the entire fold (er… not that I would know anything about that…). That shit’s not a problem at all when you’ve got Stitch Witchery on your side. Yay, Stitch Witchery!

Butterick 5526 & Kelly skirt, made with Mood Fabrics

Since my skirt is so bright and colorful, I went the boring route with my top and made a classic button-down shirt. I seriously considered adding embellishment – or even making it into a crop top, because, why the fuck not? – but in the end, I stuck with the classic tried and true. Mainly because my wardrobe is sorely lacking a solid white button down with sleeves, so I know this shirt will get quite a bit of wear with other pieces to mix and match. I used this Theory lightweight cotton shirting – which, if you were wondering, took almost as much agonizing as find the perfect stripe. There are SO MANY WHITE SHIRTING FABRICS available at moodfabrics.com! SO FUCKING MANY. Like, how do you even choose? I figured that I’ve had really good experiences with all the Theory denims I’ve bought, so the shirting fabric must be just as excellent. Which ended up being true – this shit is soft as angel’s wings, presses and stitches beautifully, and it’s right along that line of being *almost* sheer because it’s so lightweight. A skin-colored bra is a must with this fabric. The only drawback is that since it’s 100% cotton, it does wrinkle like crazy. Like, when I pulled it out of the dryer, it was a hot mess of wadded wrinkled ball I don’t even know what. Good thing it presses well! :)

Butterick 5526 & Kelly skirt, made with Mood Fabrics

For my pattern, I used Butterick 5526. Like I said, I knew I wanted a classic button-down shirt but nothing in my stash was exactly what I wanted – everything was either a relaxed fit, or had something twee like a peter pan collar or an abundance of ruffles cascading down the front. Which is fine – clearly I like these patterns enough to even have them in my stash – but I wanted something super basic. Butterick 5526 perfectly fit the bill – I went with the princess-seamed version with 3/4 sleeves, and I’m actually a little surprised at how much I like it. I made the size 6 with no muslin, with the hopes that the princess seams would give me enough room to play around with the fitting. It actually came out perfect straight out of the envelope – I KNOW, RIGHT? – although next time, I will shorten the sleeves because they are stupid long. They’re supposed to be 3/4 and they come to right above my wrists – in that weird spot that’s not quite long sleeve, but rather looks like I measured my arms wrong. Wah wah! I’ll just wear these rolled up, I guess. I also may reduce some of the ease out of the sleeve cap in the next version; these were pretty hard to ease in smoothly and there are still tons of wrinkles. But, for the most part – it ain’t bad!

Butterick 5526 & Kelly skirt, made with Mood Fabrics

I did try to jazz up the shirt a little bit by adding topstitching, but for the most part – it’s just a plain jane backdrop to an awesomely loud skirt. I love it!

Butterick 5526 & Kelly skirt, made with Mood Fabrics

Ok, now I have to tell you my secret – I didn’t start sewing this until Saturday morning! On top of that, it had to be finished and photographed before dark on Sunday – and I had a wedding to attend on Saturday night. I spent so long agonizing over my designer inspiration, then the fabric, then the pattern – that by the time I had everything (mostly)figured out, it was time for me to get on a plane and head to NY. When I got home on Monday, I had another more urgent deadline that needed to be taken care of asap (more on that later), which put this project on the backburner for a few days. Needless to say – I was pretty stressed come Saturday morning! I like to think I’m pretty efficient when it comes to making things quickly, but even that’s a stretch for me, especially two garments. I’ll be honest – I was tempted to half ass this one, just for the sake of time, but I decided early on that it wasn’t even worth my while if I didn’t end up making something that would be wearable past this photoshoot. Which means I forced myself to slow down – I made time for fitting, for the details like topstitching, for fixing mistakes (oh yeah, I totally sewed that collar stand on backwards the first time NO BIG DEAL), for eating lunch. But hey, look – not only did I actually get it done, but I actually made something nice without cutting corners.

Butterick 5526, made with Mood Fabrics

Butterick 5526, made with Mood Fabrics
I mean, check out that topstitching!

Butterick 5526, made with Mood Fabrics

Kelly skirt, made with Mood Fabrics
Lots of topstitching on the skirt too, woohoo :)

Kelly skirt, made with Mood Fabrics

Kelly skirt, made with Mood Fabrics

I know my outfit isn’t quite as fashion forward as what I could have done, but I am elated with how both pieces turned out and I can’t wait to give them some proper wear to welcome spring in with loving arms. Come on, spring! I know you’re lurking back there somewhere, time to come out of hiding!

Butterick 5526 & Kelly skirt, made with Mood Fabrics

One last thing – most of y’all are probably aware by now, but just in case you weren’t… By Hand London is going to start printing fabrics on-demand! How freaking awesome is that?? They need some help with costs to get production started, so they’ve got a Kickstarter going to raise funds. You can get some pretty sweet loot in exchange for your money – from tote bags, to coffee mugs, to free patterns, to private sewing lessons – but even $5 helps. Every little bit adds up! I am so so excited for this new venture that the BHL ladies are seeking out, and I really hope they meet their goal so it can become a reality (especially if it means I can start printing wildly tacky fabric to my heart’s desire). You can check out the Kickstarter here – watch the super cute video, and I dare you not to fall in love. I dare you.

Completed: The Emery Dress

10 Mar

I am SO LATE to this freaking party – but better late than never, right? :)

Emery dress

Behold – it’s an Emery Dress! Sent to me by the lovely Christine Haynes, I was anxious to try out this pattern for myself (have you seen these popping up all over the internet? Everyone’s versions are AMAZING! Some of my favorites – Miss Crayola Creepy, SewTell, The Nerdy Seamstress, By Gum, By Golly!, ShanniLoves, Sew I Thought… ok, I’ll stop now, but you get the idea!). This little lady regularly gets rave reviews on the fit, construction, and overall look, and I think it’s pretty well-deserved.

Emery dress

So, my experience with Emery didn’t go quite as smoothly as everyone else’s – this was the dress that sucked me down the SIX MUSLIN SPIRAL OF DOOM, but once I got that out of the way, the rest of the construction came together easily. Even matching up the plaid was easy, since there aren’t a lot of pieces to contend with (although I totally done goofed mine up… more on that in a minute).

Emery dress

I’ll start with the muslin experience. Since figuring out that I have big back-gaping issues (and since that’s not really something that can be easily tweaked after the pattern pieces have been cut out of the fabric), I always always make a muslin, at least for just the bodice. My muslin for this dress turned out perfect in the front – darts in the correct place, ending at the correct points, perfectly fitting at all key points, yay! – but the back stuck straight out between my shoulder blades. I tried my usual adjustment, and instead of working – it actually made things worse! Thus, I started the muslin spiral: I played with moving around the slash line, I tried adding different amounts, I tried altering the center back seam and I tried adding fucking gigantic darts at the neckline. Those last two attempts were really really awful, by the way – if you tweak the back neckline too hard, you’ll end up throwing off the balance of the front neckline so it pooches out all weird. NOT a good look!

Of course, by the time I realized I couldn’t crack this pattern, I was also 5 muslins in and feeling stubborn enough to refuse giving up. Not to mention, I was getting super desperate and pissy because everyone else seemed to have NO problems whatsoever with fitting this pattern. Look at everyone’s backs – they fit perfectly. This was starting to make me feel like I had a freak body or some shit.

Emery dress

So how did I fix this mystery back pattern? After combing through my fit books and googling everything I could think of, I ended up landing on the narrow back adjustment (this shows something similar to what I did, although I pulled mine from Fit For Real People so it’s slightly different). That did the trick! No gape! I feel like a fitting PRO, y’all!

Emery dress

I think it’s really important to point out that just because *I* had some fitting issues with the back bodice, that doesn’t mean that you should be scared to try this pattern! Like I said, pretty much every other version I’ve seen praises how well it fits straight out of the envelope. Everyone’s body is shaped differently, and it makes me real cringy when I read that someone recommends against a pattern because they had a bad fit experience (unless it’s just a bad fit across the board – which happens, but it’s rare!). Your (or my!) fit experience =/= everyone else’s fit experience, so just keep that in mind! Ok, soapbox rant over!

Emery dress

Anyway, this dress was super simple to whip up after I figured all the fitting shit out. Cutting was a beast; not only did I choose a large scale, unbalanced plaid as my fabric – I only had about 1 3/4 yards, which meant I had to be VERY careful with my layout. Happily, I was able to match up the side seams on the bodice… but check out that skirt seam. I was concentrating so hard on matching up the plaid lines, that I didn’t think to match up the GIANT BLOCKS OF COLOR. Which means the plaid doesn’t match at all on the skirt. Oops! Learn from my mistakes, people :)

Emery dress

Because I barely had any fabric, I had to cut some corners on other parts of the dress. I originally wanted to make the collar in the same plaid fabric – but I couldn’t get the pieces to mirror each other, and it looked really stupid on my dressform, so I used my lining fabric (originally cut to be the underside of the collar) on top instead. I think it actually really works this way – makes the dress a little less twee. My lining fabric is the same silky delicious purple cotton batiste that I used with my Victoria Blazer, and I used every single last bit of those scraps!

Emery dress

I also used the batiste for the pockets, because, again, fabric restraints :)

Emery dress

I think the biggest/most visible changes I made are the lack of sleeves and the shortened hemline. I cut a good 4″ off this hemline – it really helped with conserving fabric, plus, I just don’t like knee-length hemlines on me! – and then folded up a 2″ hem allowance. I didn’t make any bodice changes to account for the lack of sleeves, I just… didn’t add them! Ha! I waffled with the idea of using plaid bias to close the arm holes, but I ran of of plaid… so the arm holes are just slip-stitched closed. Nothing fancy here!

Emery dress

I’ll admit, when I finally stuck the zipper in this dress and stood in front of the mirror, I thought it looked really unflattering on me! Listen, I am not the type of person to pretend like I think I’m fat (I know I’m not, and I’m not going to fish for compliments either), but something about that gathered skirt + plaid really made me look wider than I am. Even Landon, who never ever sees unflattering things the same way I do, noticed it. I kind of assumed so since I don’t think gathered skirts are very flattering on my shape, but again – everyone else’s Emery’s were soooo cute and flattering! Ugh, Lauren!

I really think adding the belt helps – it separates the bodice from the gathered skirt, which visually makes me look smaller in the waist. Of course, now that I’m looking at these pictures, it looks totally fine! I think it’s one of those things that just looks better in pictures than it does in real life :)

Emery dress

That being said, I totally plan on living in this dress all summer. The plaid cotton is lightweight and comfortable, it’s super cute, and I just really love it! Although I’ll probably keep the belt; mostly because that vertical line isn’t matched perfectly (due to the gathers) and it’s making me feel twitchy ;)

Emery dress

Emery dress

(psst, aren’t my earrings so perfect for this dress? I just got them from ChatterBlossom, gahhh, she always has the best stuff!)

Emery dress

Emery dress

Emery dress

This pattern is labeled as an Intermediate, but know that the instructions are very very thorough and super hand-holdy, so I think a confident beginner could easily tackle this shit. Christine also has an extremely detailed Emery Sewalong on her blog with lots and lots of pictures, in case you get stuck. But seriously – you can do this!

Emery dress

If you’re lovin on Emery but haven’t made the jump to purchase, keep an eye on this space – I have a copy to give away later this week!

Also, check it out:

Yay spring!

SPRING IS HAPPENING RIGHT HERE IN MY YARD HOLY SHIT.

Completed: The Flora Dress

5 Mar

Here’s a lovely, floaty warm-weather dress, just in time for another massive cold front! Ha! :)

Flora dress

Haha! In all seriousness, let’s welcome the newest member of the By Hand London family – Miss Flora!

Flora dress

Flora is a lovely dress with two bodice options and pleated circle skirt with a straight or hi-lo hem (or, as I like to call it, mullet-hem). I’ve dubbed this a floaty warm-weather dress because that’s specifically what my version is made for, but I imagine this could make a pretty sweet cold-weather dress, too, sewn up in the right fabric (preferably with some kind of crazy awesome contrast lining in the skirt, so it peeks out behind your legs and ooooh!).

Flora dress

My version is the the dipped hem skirt with mock wrap bodice. Man, I love me a good wrap bodice, mock or not.

Flora dress

I did have to make a few changes to get a good fit on the pattern, but nothing that runs outside my ordinary alterations. Let’s get them all out in a pretty list. I started with the size 2/6:
- 3/8″ rounded back adjustment + 5/8″ darts at the upper back
- Lowered the shoulder seams 1″ – also lowered the vertical waist darts 1″ (I also should have lowered those horizontal bust darts too, looking at all the wrinkles on mah side boobs. Oh well, hindsight is 20/20 blah blah)
- 3/8″ tuck out of the front neckline to keep it from gaping

The rounded back adjustment is a new thing for me – I’ve noticed on a lot of my old handmades, there is a weird gaping at the upper back, right under the nape of my neck. It looks STUPID AS SHIT. Apparently I have a ~rounded upper back~ or a Dowager’s Hump, which yes, sounds even worse. I am pretty certain this is in relation to a change in posture, which means I need to start doing yoga or something. Lord.

Flora dress

You know what, though? My upper back no longer has ANY gaping, at least not in this dress! Fuck yeah!

Flora dress

The rest of the dress came together without any additional alterations – even the skirt length is as-printed on the pattern. I know some people really hate this type of hem – that was me, for a long time, and still to some extent (on the really bad ones, YOU KNOW WHICH ONES I’M TALKING ABOUT), but I reeeeally love it on this dress. Combined with the circle skirt, it kind of makes me feel like a princess, without feeling like I look over-the-top. Does that make sense?

Flora dress

It should be noted that, since the back side of the fabric show behind your legs due to the hem line, you probably want to make sure that it doesn’t look totally hiddy. My fabric isn’t super gorgeous on the wrong side, but it’s passable. It looks fine.

Flora dress

Check out that hem sweep! Woohoo!!

Flora dress

I finished the skirt seams with a simple french seam – I think that just looks prettiest on exposed seams like the backside of a mullet skirt. The hem is just a tiny rolled hem, but wouldn’t it be pretty with a strip of lace so it show on the back? Yes, yes it would. Just be forwarned that this hem is looooong and goes on into forever, so if you handsew… you’ll be handsewing into forever, too.

Flora dress

Same with my Georgia dress, I stabilized the neck edges with twill tape to keep it from gaping. I really cannot recommend this step enough when it comes to necklines that have a tendency to droop and gape open – it pulls everything slightly in, and keeps it secure. I can move around all I want and there is no gaping! Yes!

Flora dress

At this point, I kind of feel like it’s my personal life mission to eliminate the gape.

Flora dress

This cotton voile fabric is equal parts weird and amazing, isn’t it? I picked it up from Mood Fabrics with this dress specifically in mind (I also grabbed this navy linen with View A in mind, but floaty won out. And now, the more I look at it, the more that linen might want to be a skirt. Thoughts?).

The Flora was designed to be made up in most any fabric (check out the other versions on the BHL blog if you don’t believe me… as a side note, MAN I am jealous of that cleavage! Dang! Haha!), so I chose to go on the lighter side – lightweight, floaty, almost see-through, you know the drill. What’s interesting about this fabric is that it has all the qualities on voile, with an extra kick of giant embroidered dots scattered everywhere. The dots are slightly thicker than the voile (not, super duper thick like you’d think when you think embroidery… more like the equivalent of a couple extra layers of the voile in thickness), but they don’t affect the drape of this fabric. Also, they’re cotton, so they didn’t do anything crazy when I hit them with my iron. Win!

Flora dress

One more shot of the upper back, bc I’m so proud of myself :) Just a note – in most of these pictures, I’m wearing a strapless bra with my dress. You can see my black bra strap in this picture; that’s cos this came from the set I snapped and sent to BHL after I tested the pattern (just… be thankful I retook them, that’s all I have to say about that!). Anyway, my point is, the straps of the dress are not bra-friendly without a little bit of tweaking. You’ll either need to make bra strap carriers to hold the straps in, or go strapless.

Flora dress

I underlined my bodice in a lightweight cotton batiste, so the inside feels soft and breatheable and delicious. Also, no slippery lining fabric, yay!

Flora dress

Flora dress

And, of course, there’s a hot pink zip in there because why not?

Flora dress

Can’t wait for it to warm up out here so I can wear this bad boy out and about. I’m SO dying to get out of the house and just spend a day lounging around the park on a blanket, eating snoballs. God. Summer, won’t ya hurry up already??

Completed: the Meissa Blouse

28 Feb

I think every sewist has a dream fabric that they’ve spent years searching for in vain. It’s not necessarily a weird combination of prints and colors on a totally inappropriate weave, but whatever the specific end result is, it’s nowhere to be found. I have two – a wide (like 3″ or more) white and navy striped twill, and a bicycle print that is NOT quilting cotton.

Meissa Blouse

I gave up on the stripes, but the bicycle print really haunts me. I’ve seen some cute little stylized bikies (see my Bicycley Belladone for an example), but I was holding out for that literal printed-bike-on-some-lightweight-cotton-in-a-nice-color-combination that didn’t seem to exist. And NO pennyfarthings! I want real bikes, not some super hipster twiddly mustache crap.

Meissa Blouse

I had this particular fabric in mind when I was contacted by Organic Cotton Plus with offers to try out some of their yardage. I’d just been back from snooping at Brooks Brothers, specifically zeroing in on this Bicycle print button-up. Isn’t that shit amazing? Argh! So I thought to myself, “Cool, well I’ll just get a stamp and make my own, yeah? Oh, they don’t have any batiste in good colors… but they do have dye…”

And this, my friends, is how I ended up with two yards of white cotton batiste, emerald green Procion dye and some weird little bag of soda ash. Have I gotten in over my head? Probably.

Meissa Blouse

My first couple of days were preparing the fabric – first, I dyed it in a bucket (for real; I stood at the kitchen sink with a my Kindle on Netflix and squished it around the water while wearing gloves, ha!). I wish I would have used a bit more dye in my mix; the end result color is pretty, but it is lighter than the emerald green I was anticipating. On the flip side, though, the dye took evenly all the way across the fabric, so yay!

After I finished the dye bath and let the fabric dry, I took to stamping the entire yardage with a rubber stamp and fabric paint (I blobbed my paint into a dried-up ink pad to make it easier to use). I thought this part was gonna take forever, but it wasn’t too bad! Since stamping tends to look pretty, well, stamped (i.e., it’s not exact and you won’t get a perfect image transfer every single time), I didn’t follow any straight lines and just kind of stamped around haphazardly. After I cut the pieces, I re-stamped a few that had big gaps. This particular ink is great because you don’t have to heat-set it to keep it from washing out (which is good bc I’d spent long enough prepping the fabric, so one less end task is good in my book!), and the ink itself absorbs into the fabric and is not stiff.

Meissa Blouse

Other than the dye reaction it had (which is I think my fault for not making a strong enough dye bath, oops. Live and learn!), I really enjoyed working with this fabric. The batiste is one of those good ones that feels like there’s silk or something smooth and luscious blended in the fabric, but it is truly 100% cotton (and organic, no less!). Because it is cotton, it presses well, which makes it perfect for shirtmaking. It’s also not super sheer like some batistes – even the virgin white would be fine for a shirt. Always a plus in my book!

Meissa Blouse

The pattern I used is the Meissa Blouse from my beloved Papercut Patterns. I love this pattern because it’s a casual button-up without being an Archer (which I obviously LOOOVE, but hey yo, a girl’s gotta branch out!), ha. The little feminine details – the rounded collar, the shoulder yokes with the little gathers, the double buttons – seemed like a good match for this fabric, and a nice nod to my original inspiration without being a blatant copy.

Meissa Blouse

The pattern instructions make this thing really, really easy. Katie has had lots of praise around the webs for how good they are, and it’s all try! Really basic, really straightforward, and beautiful results. I did change a few things just because I’ve hit my personal shirtmaking stride – I flat-felled every seam (the way the shirt is made, only the side and underarm seams are not enclosed, so it’s not like you have a flat fell a million seams to do this) and I pulled in the waist an additional 1/2″ or so. I also shortened the sleeves by about 1″.

Meissa Blouse

Meissa Blouse

Whatever I did to the sleeve seams now means that I cannot button the cuffs around my wrist – they are WAY too small! Whoops! Oh well, this is totally a summer shirt, and I’ll never wear those sleeves rolled down anyway. Ha!

Meissa Blouse

Meissa Blouse

To keep the shirt from being overwhelmingly green, I added some cotton braid to the inside of the button band (butted up right against the stitching line) and inside the sleeve cuffs.

Meissa Blouse

Meissa Blouse

The sleeve cuff treatment is something I saw on the Brook’s Brothers shirt (seriously… if you have a Brooks Brothers in your area, you should snoop it. Some of the finishing inside the clothes there was pretty awesome!). There was a little piece of petersham ribbon tucked in the seam at the top of the cuff, which shows when you flip up the cuffs. Using that inspiration, I tried to do the same thing with my shirt. It’s a liiiiiittle sloppy because I was experimenting, but I like how it turned out! It even makes me ok with the fact that I can’t use the cuffs :)

Meissa Blouse

I’m super happy with all the detailing on the shirt. I used lots of topstitching so it would really stand out.

Meissa Blouse

And hey, check it out – the shirt is long enough to where I can tie the bottom in a knot, like a fashion blogger or some shit.

Meissa Blouse

Meissa Blouse

~So fashun.

Meissa Blouse

I still have quite a bit of the dye & soda ash left over. I’m thinking I may buy a load of silk and sandwash the shit out of it. My friend Elizabeth uses soda ash to prewash her silks into this amazing textured wonderland, so I can’t wait to try that! I will definitely report back with results. First, I gotta find a washing machine, though ;)

Ok, ONE last thing – and I promise this is a good one! Remember The Great British Sewing Bee and how we (we as in Americans, ha) bitched about not having a US version of the show? Well, I was contacted by a Love Productions, who is in the process of producing and casting a pilot for – you guessed it – an American version, called The Sewing Bee! They are currently on the hunt for amateur sewists in the NY, CT & NJ area (although if they get picked up, they will expand to nationwide). I actually ended up talking to one of the producers on the phone and I’m really excited to hear about the plans they have in the works – such as, the show will differ slightly from the UK version in that there will be a different set of contestants and winners every week. One thing that is similar is how they plan on editing – as far as I know, it will be as drama-free as the UK version, which is what I like most about it!

img-227171148-0001
Click here for a bigger version of the flyer

If you’re in the area (or don’t mind traveling and camping out for a couple of weeks, I guess), you should definitely try out for the show! And then report back to me, because I want to see y’all on the teeeveeee!

Completed: Vogue 1610

26 Feb

Good morning, everyone! Sorry, I took the last few days off of blogging… to be honest, I’d spent the entire weekend in my sewing room futzing with ONE fitting adjustment for ONE pattern, and six muslins later (yeah, just typing that makes me die a little inside), I was done. Not done with the fitting adjustment – I wish! – but rather, done with sewing. I took some time away to do more important, non-sewy things (specifically: binge-watching infomericals from the comfort of my velvet couch and drinking bourbon with ginger beer… yum.), and I gotta say – I feel like a new woman now. Ready to go tackle that god-forsaken fitting adjustment and get back on the ~swagon~.

Speaking of swagon (which is like a sewing wagon, except way funnier), check out my new threads- baby’s first DVF!

Vogue 1610

OKKKKK, it’s not a ~real~ Diane von Furstenberg, obviously, but it *is* a Vogue Designer Pattern, which is close enough in my book. This is Vogue 1610, a classic DVF wrap dress with sleeve and length options. I found this dude at an estate sale a few years ago – in my size, and for $1, no less! – and this is the first chance I’ve had to make it up.

Vogue 1610

Sewing this wrap was an experience, albeit a fairly easy one. Although the pattern came in my size, a quick tissue fit (and by tissue fit, I mean I held it up to my chest and looked in the mirror, ha!) showed that the bodice front was big enough for complete coverage – which, when one is sewing a stretch knit, that is TOO big! You need the pieces to be a little smaller than you are, so they stretch into shape and give you that lovely silhouette that only negative ease can do. Further, this pattern was drafted for stable knits – i.e., pontes and double knits and all those goodies – and the fabric I had was an extremely fluid, extremely drapey rayon jersey. Fortunately, both the style of this dress + knit fabrics in general are pretty forgiving, so I sized down with some experimental hacking and I think it came out pretty good!

Vogue 1610

At the cutting stage, I took 1″ off the center back seam and the front side seam. I didn’t bother changing the pattern tissue itself (have you seen how much this pattern sells for on Etsy? Holy shit.), just folded over the edges to size and pinned them down. When cutting a piece on the fold, I just extended the pattern piece so it hung over the fabric edge by 1″. I also shortened the skirt by, um, a lot. I think 7″ the first time, and then another 2-3″ after I sewed it up (and immediately regretted that decision, because YIKES SHORT AIEEE). I don’t really recommend this type of size hacking unless you are very familiar with sewing and manipulating knits, because you can definitely end up with a surprise outcome, but it all worked out for me.

Vogue 1610

I chose not to follow the instructions that came with the pattern – I’m sure they were fine, but they were also written for stable knits and included things like facings and pockets. I hate pockets on knits, by the way! They always come out lumpy and can’t hold anything heavier than a cell phone. I also hate facings on knits because, whyyyy. Why would you put yourself through that kind of torture.

Vogue 1610

Construction-wise, I sewed everything up on my serger, except where I used my twin needle to topstitch the hems. The hems are stabilized with Stitch Witchery, which seemed like a brilliant idea at the time, but in retrospect, my hems are weird and stiff and lumpy. Not a good look! I also can’t trim any more length off that skirt for fear of indecent exposure. I’ve used Stitch Witchery in the past to stabilize hems, and I stand behind it, but for something as drapey as this rayon, it just didn’t work. Next time, I will probably just steam the heck out of it and sew very slowly to get my hems.

Vogue 1610

I applied my neck binding in the flat (starting at the center back and stretching down each side of the front individually), so I could get it as stretched as possible and cut off the excess. I think I ended up cutting a couple of inches off each end! The final result is a binding that stays in place and does NOT gape – which is important for this wrap style. I like my clothing to stay in place while I’m wearing it, thanks.

Vogue 1610
Vogue 1610

I was a little concerned that the gathered skirt would look stupid in a knit, but I actually think it’s quite lovely. I think the key here is to go with something lightweight and drapey – bulky fabrics will add, well, bulk!

Vogue 1610

Isn’t this fabric fun, though? It’s the Arc Deco rayon jersey from Mood Fabrics. I snapped up three yards of it while it was on 50% off sale (do y’all get those sale emails? Oh man. Those are dangerous.), specifically with this pattern in mind. It sewed up like a dream, wears like a dream, feels like a dream… just don’t use Stitch Witchery with it ;)

Vogue 1610

Next time I make this, I’ll shorten the bodice a bit – whoever owned this pattern before me had lengthened it about 1″… I left it because it definitely hits my waist, but I think it looks a little long and unbalanced in these pictures. I also promise not to get too scissor-happy with the skirt length on the next go ;) But yeah, I’ll definitely be making this again – I want one in silk jersey, like a proper DVF! Yum!

Vogue 1610

I guess that’s it! Some housekeeping before I dip outta here-

- Clare and I have already started planning the meet-up while we’re in NYC, and emails have been sent! I tried to get everyone who expressed interest, but inevitably I’m sure I missed someone. If you’d like in on the action for Saturday March 15th, holler at me and I’ll get that email out to you! I’m really excited about this trip, can you tell? :)

- Oh, right, giveaway winner! Let’s see, random number generator says…

Ok, for whatever reason, Flickr won’t give me the html code to show the number box (and I don’t have time to futz with it this morning because I need to leave for work in… 5 minutes haha), but you can click this link if you want to see the screenshot. Btw, fuck you, Flickr.

winnerstevie

Congratulations, Stevie Nicole! Watch for my email so we can get your Georgia out to you :)

Everyone who asked – I don’t care if you copy my Georgia! Remember, I copied that lace+emerald combo from someone else. Plus, who doesn’t need a gorgeous sexy lace dress in their life, yeah? :)

Completed: Coco!

21 Feb

YAY I’m so glad I finally get to share this secret with y’all – Coco!

Coco Top

For those of you living under a rock (a… really big rock, I’d assume), Coco is Tilly‘s newest pattern, just released last week! Tilly asked me a few months ago if I’d like to test the pattern, and as soon as I saw the word “knit” in the description, I immediately jumped at the chance. I can’t resist knits, I’m sorry!

Coco Top

Coco is a lovely, simple shape reminiscent of those gorgeous Brenton tops that everyone except me seems to own. Sewn up in a more stable knit (I love my slinky jerseys, but this pattern is not really the place for that… although I will probably experiment with that shit in the future anyway!), it’s very easy to assemble and very forgiving to fit, making it perfect for beginners to tackle. I made the short length with 3/4 sleeves and a funnel neck; there are three views included in the pattern (that you can mix and match for endless variations) – you can see them all in more detail on Tilly’s blog.

Coco Top

For my fabric, I used a heather grey ponte knit from Mood Fabrics. I sewed the entire thing on my serger, although you can absolutely sew this on a regular machine if need be – the pattern even includes some instructions and tips if that’s the case for you! I made no alterations to the pattern itself; just sewed it up in a straight size 1 and followed the instructions to assemble! I used a straight stitch to sew the side slits and the hem, which have held up quite well, despite all the washing and wearing I’ve given this top. This is also the first thing I made using my new gravity feed iron, and WOW you guys – that hem pressed like a dream!

Coco Top

I’ll admit; when I was sewing this up, I was a little afraid it looked a bit Star Trek-y for my tastes, with the solid color and the big funnel collar. I think the end result turned out really cute, though, and it’s sooo comfortable to wear with leggings. I’m wearing this one with my red ponte leggings; it’s like a ponte double-whammy up in hurr, yeah!

Coco Top

Also, check out that throwback hair! You can tell how old these pictures are, ha ;)

Coco Top

I think this would be REALLY cute up in a stripey fabric (which I looked for, but no dice. Whyyy is a good stripey knit so hard to find, anyway??). I’d love to try the variation with the boat neckline and keep the little side slits – maybe even go with the longer length. It’s a simple shape for sure, but it’s also open to LOTS of possibilities!

Coco Top

What do you think? Love Coco or LOVE Coco? Get your copy here!

Completed: A Lacy Georgia (+ a giveaway!)

19 Feb

As much as I’m not really one for ~celebrating~ Valentine’s Day (I’ll take the flowers and the steak dinner, though, thanks!), I *love* the excuse it gives me to make a new dress specially for going out. Last year I wore red lace, this year I decided to go with… lace again. Except this time, I thought I’d ramp up the knockout factor with some black lace and a form-fitting, By Hand London-approved shape.

Georgia dress

So. Meet Georgia.

Georgia dress

When the girls at BHL HQ asked me if I wanted a copy of their newest pattern, I did not hesitate to scream YUSSSS and start prowling the Mood Fabrics site for a perfect lace. I knew I wanted to experiment with emerald underlining black lace (when I was still working for Muna, we had made a swing coat for a client in a similar color scheme and I looooved looking at that thing. LOVED it. Unfortunately, the client didn’t want photos taken of her even though she’s totally gorgeous, so you’ll just have to use your imagination here), so I snapped up this Anna Suit stretch lace and emerald cotton sateen and immediately set to work.

Georgia dress

The prep work for assembling this dress was definitely a labor of love – I underlined every single piece of lace with the green cotton sateen, using long basting stitches and silk thread, by hand. I kept the pieces flat on my tabletop so they wouldn’t shift around, and I bribed myself with episodes of the X-Files while I sewed (two, in case you were curious) (speaking of which, whyyyy didn’t anyone ever tell me about the X-Files?? I’ve just discovered it and I’m OBSESSED! It’s like watching Ancient Aliens, except with a 90s love story. omg.). As I sewed each piece together to assemble the dress, I removed the basting stitches (this is where silk thread comes in handy; it just slides right out effortlessly!) and serged the edges separately so the seam allowances could be pressed open.

Georgia dress
Georgia dress - stabilizing neckline

I used twill tape to stabilize the top edges of the cups, so they would curve against my body and not stretch out over time. This is one of those really easy techniques that takes barely any time at all, but give you fabulous results. You basically do the same method as you would for taping the roll line on a coat – cut the twill tape to the length of the neckline minus 1/4″, then place it inside the seam allowance, up against the seam line. Since the tape is shorter than the neckline, the neckline gets eased into the length of the tape and then stitched down (inside the seam allowance). That’s it! So easy! So effective!

Georgia dress
Georgia dress

I’m really happy with how the hem turned out – I knew I wanted the scallops to roll all the way around the dress, with a wide hem of solid green below (similar to the aforementioned coat). Since the skirt has 6 panels to give it it’s shape, cutting the lace required some forethought and a lot of head-scratching. I’m happy to report that my scallops ended up pretty close to perfect – they go all the way around the hem uninterrupted, even at the zipper! Yeah!! Totally worth that extra effort.

Georgia dress

I changed up the construction of the straps because my fabric was too bulky to pull right side out. Instead, I treated them like belt looks – finished one edge, folded the strap into thirds, and slipstitched everything together. As a result, my straps are really secure and I think they look great!

Georgia dress

The only part about the dress that I’m not happy with is the bodice size – despite my muslin, it ended up toooo small! Whoops! Thankfully, it’s totally wearable (the smallness is in where the bottom seam hits, not in a scandalously-low way or anything), and it’s not terribly noticeable in real life, thanks to the lace. But it’s there, I know it’s there, and next time I will be giving this lady a big ol’ FBA.

Also, in case you were wondering – I can wear my dress with or without a bra. It’s fitted enough to give me some support without a bra, but it also works fine with a strapless bra.

Georgia dress
Georgia dress

What I love most about this dress, though, is the 90s throwback style. It really looks like I’m wearing a Cher Horowitz-approved, super fancy slip. The whole time I was making this dress, this scene from Clueless kept running through my head:

HAHA! But seriously – someone make this shit up in white silk! DO IT NOW!

Georgia dress
Georgia dress
Georgia dress

The pattern itself was very easy to follow, even with my added changes. I made the size 2/6, with the skinny straps and the mini hemline. Just a warning – it is pretty short! If you are considering the mini and you are not a petite person, you may want to consider lengthening it. I personally did not have to make any sizing alterations to the pattern, but like I said earlier, I will be doing a FBA for the next round.

Georgia dress

GIVEAWAY IS NOW CLOSED
Ok, so here’s the prize if you made it through to the end of this post – the gals at By Hand London graciously sent me an extra copy of the pattern, so let’s have a giveaway! If you’d like to win your very own copy of the Georgia dress pattern, simply comment on this post and let me know what fabric you’ll use to make it up. That’s it! This giveaway is open WORLDWIDE and I will close the entries next Wednesday February 26, 2014 at 8AM CST.
GIVEAWAY IS NOW CLOSED

Good luck! Here’s a bonus picture of me and Landon on Valentine’s Day, smug wine smiles and all~

Valentine's Day!

me-made-may'13

Contact Me!

I love getting emails! Yay emails! lladybirdlauren AT gmail DOT com

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