Bias Binding, Gemma Tank, Liberty Fabric, Made By Rae Patterns, Pearl Shift, Sewing

Gemma Tank with Gathered Skirt X 3

Last year about this time, I had the idea to use the Gemma Tank pattern and make some summer dresses. Rae posted a tutorial on her blog for adding a peplum to the tank which I tried and loved so I thought I would try just lengthening the ruffle to skirt length using two wider and longer rectangles for the skirt. Then I got distracted by other patterns and other sewing. It must be said that when I sewed my first version of this Gemma Dress, I used too long a bodice and it wasn’t balanced and I was too discouraged at that time to take apart the already gathered and attached skirt and shorten the bodice. It felt overwhelming. I did finish a version with a very long linen skirt and a Liberty of London cotton lawn floral top. I lined that version and it came out ok (pictures below) but I forgot to add a seam allowance to allow for the sausaging of the bodice and so the straps were narrower than I would have liked. All of this to say that this year, I had two versions of this dress cut out and partially but not completely sewn. One was made from a previously me-made chambray Bianca Dress

and a skirt I purchased about 15 years ago in a little boutique but rarely wore because I didn’t like the waist. I loved the fabric though so held onto it. The other version was in a beautiful cotton double gauze that I purchased on sale from Alewives Fabrics after years of wanting the fabric but not feeling that I could spend the money.  This May one of my goals is to finish some of these projects that have languished.

First up, the chambray and upcycled rtw skirt.

The skirt was lined with a gauzy green fabric which I used for the bias binding and hem facing. I added bra holders made of ribbon as I sewed the binding.

I used elastic thread to gather the skirt which worked great. I made the front skirt piece wider than the back. I am not sure of the exact measurement, I just used as much as I could of the ready to wear skirt. Since I had the issue with the bodice length, I sewed the bodice together and tried it on and then figured out where I wanted it to hit on the dress which was just at the bottom of the rib cage. I think I must have originally cut these pieces out thinking I would sew french seams because the bodice is a bit loose on this in the finished dress but I really don’t care. I wanted a loose, floaty, summer dress and it doesn’t need to be perfect. This is something I will wear on vacation with sandals or over a bathing suit. The price was right too since it was all recycled from clothes in my closet.

Before:

After:

And as worn:

The Liberty and Linen version was basically finished over the winter but I still hadn’t handsewn the lining to the waist, partially because I must have cut the two bodices slightly differently and things didn’t line up for me the way they usually do which threw me off. But I finally sewed everything in late April and it is ready to wear. It is a little sack like but I think will be nice for hotter days or with a jeans jacket or cardigan for cooler days. A good summer date night dress. Maybe a little bare for work although wearing a lab coat makes many less wearable options wearable. I bought the linen last spring and also made  a Josephine blouse with the same fabrics.

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I used the floral as a hem facing as well.

My gathering was a little rushed and the linen was not as easy to gather as softer fabric but I don’t think it really matters. It is linen and it will always look a little wrinkled-that is part of the charm. The skirt is also pieced so there is an extra seam. I was squeaking by making both of these projects with the fabric I had.

Front:

Back:

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And as worn before I hemmed it.

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I saved the best for last. I have loved this Cotton and Steel double gauze fabric since I first saw Rae’s Beatrix Blouse. At the time, the price per yard just seemed too much for me but I kept thinking about it and not buying it and then it was basically sold out everywhere and then one day, lo and behold, I found it on sale. I bought 2 yards thinking that I would make a Beatrix Blouse but I didn’t get around to it and then last year when I saw the Gemma with Ruffles, I had the idea to make this dress. I love everything about it. I sort of pattern-matched the sides of the skirt. I didn’t have enough fabric to really pattern-match the bodice but I don’t think it matters. I used two different techniques when I bound the neck and armholes. The binding is visible around the neck and turned under for the armholes.  Ribbon bra straps are sewn in because I remembered just in time! One of these days I am going to thread a bunch of snaps on ribbon and have them precut in a dish on my sewing table because you can sew them in right when you add the bias binding. Really easy and it makes wearing tank tops so much easier. 

I ended up hand sewing the neck binding down because the double gauze was so fiddly.

I used the elastic thread gathering technique for the skirts for all three of these dresses that Rae uses for the Isla. It doesn’t always work perfectly for me (it didn’t work as well  for the linen) but for the lighter fabrics, it worked a charm. I used a lightweight cotton batiste for my hem binding. Here is the finished dress on the front door of honor! I love it! It was worth the wait.

I wore it today and I will wear it forever until it is worn to shreds and I know it will only get better with age and wear.

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So good! So I am off to a good start this May! More to come.

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Bias Binding, Helen's Closet Patterns, Made By Rae Patterns, Sewing

Fall York Pinafore

img_4321I wore the Helen’s Closet York Pinafore all summer as you can see here, here and here and with fall coming, I wanted to try making a warmer fall version. I had in mind a wide wale corduroy but didn’t find what I was looking for and this soft, cotton corduroy fit the bill. It was easy to work with and it is low-maintenance. Since I started sewing for myself, I have tried to only sew things I can wash at home and almost never dry-clean anything anymore.I had some beautiful paisley rayon challis left over from making this dress and I used it to line the pockets and to make the hem facing and bias binding.Bias Binding Close-upI love the little pop of patterned fabricI like to line the pockets and this paisley lining is really lovely, almost feels like silk.It was a bit slippery going with the bias binding but worth it. I  made a size large as I have been doing but probably could have taken it in a bit because the fabric doesn’t drape like linen. I plan to make several Jade tops to go with it but here it is worn with a very old Gap t shirt that I am holding on to until I make a me-made version. Sewing your own knits really spoils you for anything else.

I went shopping in my closet and found shoes I hadn’t worn in a while (purchased 19 years ago, does that make them vintage?) but love with this outfit. It reminds me a bit of the classic Marc Jacobs look from You’ve Got Mail, sort of upscale librarian or book shop owner, (or nurse practitioner ).  It will be great with boots this winter.This fall I am busy as I always am in the fall, teaching new nursing students, so I appreciate my go-to patterns that enable me to still make a wearable garment in a day. This was a Sunday project. Probably more versions to come, likely a black wide wale version. img_4293-1I have to say that my Tamarack Jacket goes with this outfit as it goes with just about everything. I am loving wearing it.img_4306My pockets were not as neat as I would have liked on the inside and so I cut a large square of the lining fabric and hand-stitched it over each pocket on the inside of the jacket. I love the neat look and I think it will be more durable and it doesn’t interfere at all with putting anything in the pocket. I also like that I was able to include some of the selvage with the designers’ names. img_4341I am slowly building a fall wardrobe of basics that work together. The Paisley dress, this pinafore, a grey Blackwood cardigan and my Tamarack Jacket are the first four. I plan to make a some versions of the Elliot Sweater, the aforementioned Jade tops, a Berlin jacket in a dark grey boiled wool and some Beatrix blouses, all of which will mix and match well with the pinafore and my ready-to-wear jeans, leggings, corduroys and boots. I am not quite ready to jump on the me-made jeans bandwagon but it is a lot of fun watching so many different versions pop up online.

What are your fall sewing plans? Do you make garments with an overall wardrobe in mind? I am excited to follow the #fall10x10 challenge on instagram. It is fun to see how many outfits people can make with a capsule wardrobe. I am not quite there yet but maybe next year!

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Bias Binding, Helen's Closet Patterns, Sewing

Ojos Flame Challis York Pinafore

img_3226Ever since I saw this beautiful version of the Helen’s Closet York Pinafore, I knew I wanted to make one for myself. One of my goals this year has been to use some of nicer fabrics in my fabric stash (the ones I have been saving and afraid to cut into) to sew garments. This is a very sheer, float-y rayon and I have wanted to sew something but hadn’t been able to decide which pattern to try.

This weekend the temperature in Connecticut finally dipped below 80 degrees and I decided to take the plunge.

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Helen’s version of this longer pinafore used a facing and spaghetti straps instead of bias binding. I originally thought I would do that too but the more I thought about it, the more I thought I could achieve a similar effect by tapering the straps. I ended up piecing the front strap because I decided on this approach after I cut everything out (I had originally thought I would do the spaghetti straps but then changed my mind) but I don’t think the piecing is noticeable and it actually enabled me to get more length out of the relatively small piece of fabric.

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I tapered the straps so that they would be 1.5 inches at the top of the shoulder and used a navy cotton lawn for my bias binding. I feel as though the lawn gives a bit of structure to the strap and is less slippery so that the straps don’t slide off my shoulders. It is total heresy, I know, but I didn’t stay-stitch or under-stitch when I sewed the bias binding. I generally don’t. I try to handle the neck and arm holes very little and I don’t pin the binding on, I just hold it gently in place and sew.  When I iron the folded binding before top-stitching it in place, I just iron the fold into the lawn, not the rayon. Then I fold by hand and use wonder clips to hold it in place before I sew the top seam. You can see pictures of how I do this in my Gemma Tank posts. I spent a lot of time sewing bias binding when I made many Gemmas two summers ago and this approach is pretty quick and gives me good results.

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All in all this was a very quick sew. I like how swishy it is (you can see it in action on my Instagram post) and I like it with my white double gauze Gemma

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and also with my chambray Gemma, and I actually have a navy lawn Gemma that is almost finished (the source of the scraps I used for the navy lawn bias binding) which I think will also work well.

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I may also make or buy an inexpensive navy slip dress to layer under the pinafore which I think would be a nice casual look. I like that this garment works with dressier sandals but also with flip flops, as all the best summer dresses do.

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I feel as though I achieved a similar feel to Helen’s floral longer York but preserved the nice armhole shape which is one of my favorite design elements (and good motivation to keep swimming those laps at the pool!)

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I cut the back piece a bit longer than the front, not on purpose-it just worked out that way- but I ended up leaving it a bit longer in back because I liked how it turned out.

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This is my fourth York Pinafore. I have three more cut out. What can I say? When I love a pattern, I love a pattern and this is such a good one. It is all I have been wearing this summer (with my many Gemma tanks). You can see some of the many outfits I have been able to make by searching the hashtag #wearyouryorkday.

Here is a version in Cloud 9 Linen-Cotton canvas print:

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And this incredibly versatile version in Essex Linen which I blogged here:

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It goes with everything I own, literally.

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And my original lightweight linen muslin which I love so much:

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If you haven’t tried this pattern yet, what are you waiting for? Go forth and sew a linen or cotton or rayon York! You won’t regret it.

 

 

 

 

 

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Bias Binding, Gemma Tank, Liberty Fabric, Made By Rae Patterns, Sewing

Linen and Liberty Josephine Blouse

I had already started making a version of the Josephine Blouse by Made By Rae in this Loominous fabric when I saw a version of the Roscoe blouse on instagram with contrasting neck and sleeve binding and that was it. I had a vision of a boho blouse in linen with a Liberty floral trim. I had already purchased this lightweight Telio linen checked fabric and I realized that this Liberty lawn would be perfect. Both fabrics from fabric.com. (I plan to also make the Roscoe at a later date but will be making it in rayon.)The Josephine is usually made with pleats but Rae posted a version with gathers that is the perfect Boho Blouse. It is loose and cute but shaped with bust darts. Many of the other styles such as the Roscoe have raglan sleeves and need a really flow-ey fabric such as rayon but the Josephine’s slimmer profile works well in cotton and in linen. It is less full cut and the gathers are more controlled. Rae suggests using elastic thread but I find that I have more control with my two rows of gather stitches. The linen is so crinkly that the gathers don’t have to be perfect and it still looks good.The actually cutting and sewing of the pattern is very straightforward. The front is sewn together and the back is one piece cut on the fold. You gather the fabric in the center back and the center of the two front pieces. You cut the two mirror halves of the front, one back piece and two sleeves. I then made the bias binding and two rectangles to make cuffs. I usually stitch just on the edge of the cuff, not in the ditch. I like the look of the visible stitching.I have to say I was thrilled with how this turned out. I used bias strips of Liberty as hem facings, as one does.Finished blouse below. It is finally warm enough for front door pictures.My sewing room has one window that faces west. Such beautiful light.I had enough of these two fabrics to also make a version of the Gemma tank cropped with a gathered linen skirt. This dress is going to be perfect for spring. More late afternoon light. I can’t get enough of it after a long, dark winter.

And many pictures of the blouse as worn. This is going to be in frequent rotation. I love the neckline. Rae is a genius with necklines.img_9738I used the curved hem from the Gemma tank as my guide for this hem. I love how you can mix and match Rae’s patterns. Back view.The other side view.I look as though I am summoning the backyard spirits but I think my husband caught me on the way to fix my hair and put it behind my ears.As you can see in the next picture. He takes a zillion pictures and then I whittle them down to a few. What can I say? Perfect combination of pattern and fabrics. The Loominous version is going to be great too. Almost finished! Spring sewing is officially underway.

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Bias Binding, Sewing

Tucks and Dots: my take on the Stylish Dress Book Dress E

img_6982These dotty little ladies are one of my favorite fabric designs from Cotton and Steel although there are so many wonderful designs that it is hard to choose. I bought several yards of this fabric knowing that I would definitely make a Gemma Tank top from this fabric at some point but the Dress E from the Stylish Dress Book has been on my radar for a long time and this fabric seemed to me to be perfectly suited to the style so yesterday I took the plunge.

Making this dress requires a commitment. First you have to buy the book, then you have to buy Swedish Tracing Paper in order to trace your pattern which is actually not for the faint of heart because multiple pattern pieces overly each other. It is doable but not necessarily easy. The pattern pieces do not include seam allowances, my bust size put me between size 10 and size 12 and most of the posts I had read about this dress said that it ran big. I didn’t know what to do. Of course I could have made a muslin which would be the smart thing to do but I decided to just plunge ahead. As it turns out, hem allowances are also not included in the pattern pieces, you have to add them. Needless to say, I didn’t realize this until after I had cut out my fabric. So although I thought I had been so smart to add 2 inches for my 5’9.5″ height, I actually hadn’t really because there was no hem included on the pattern to begin with. Yikes!

I also struggled a bit with the tucks especially since the front bodice seemed so wide despite taking about an inch out of it when I cut it out. I ended up just starting at one end of the bodice and sewing 1 inch tucks every 2 inches across the bodice which gave me 9 seams instead of the 5 that the pattern calls for. They are not completely centered but you really have to look closely to see. Amazingly, it worked out pretty well. I might even like it better than the original. I didn’t end up using the neck facing because with all my changes, I thought it probably wouldn’t work so I used my favorite bias binding (oxymoron alert) technique. I also used a hem facing, which had been my plan but in light of the extra short hem-less pattern piece, was now a necessity and used facings for the sleeves because I didn’t want them to be too short. I used one of the Cotton and Steel basics fabrics that I used for the bias binding of my Octopi Gemma Tanks. I also added an inch to the length of the back bodice and took about 3 inches out of the width of the back skirt. I could definitely cut out more width front and back. It is full! I think if I made this again, I might sew my tucks down one more inch to match the length of the back bodice since I have such a long torso and to control some of the volume. I actually would probably cut out some of the volume altogether. I cut a 12 with seam allowances for the sleeves and arm scythes and the shoulders were still tight even though the neck gapes a bit. It is my opinion that different pattern makers have different body types that they primarily design for and I am so spoiled making Made by Rae designs that almost always fit with perhaps a minor tiny tweak. So I think that I will try using the Josephine Pattern that I have had forever and never made and reverse the tucks and see if I can make something similar that fits better through the upper chest and shoulders for my swimmer’s shoulders and 5’9″ frame. Pictures of my work in process and finished dress below. Tucks and bias binding of neckline:img_6985Hem facing:img_6989Sleeve Facing:img_7002 and close up of finished sleeves: img_7001Finished Dress on Place of Honor (front door)-note the fullness:img_7003 Back of Dress (full, very full):img_7008 and as worn. Front: img_7083Side:img_7065and back: img_7043I think this ended up being one stylish dress! img_7089

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Bias Binding, Made By Rae Patterns, Ruby Dress Pattern, Sewing

Morning Walk Ruby Dress

I have loved this beautiful Leah Duncan print for a long time and I finally took the plunge and bought the voile version of the fabric. I debated whether to get the quilting cotton or the voile but at the end of the day, decided that the voile would make a nicer feeling, better draping dress. I made the Ruby with the lined yoke as I have previously done here, here, here and here. The Ruby is a great project. It is uncomplicated but the details are pretty, I always enjoy sewing it and this was no exception. I sewed the lined yoke using the Made by Rae sausage technique.I find the little bit of bias binding to be pretty easy since you are just sewing half of the armhole. Wonder clips work really well here. It is so satisfying when the bias binding turns out well. Here is the finished dress hanging on my front door which is my summertime place for pictures of new makes.And as worn to church during Me Made May. I will say that as much as I love this print, once I finished the dress, I realized that it is really very busy and might be better in a smaller dose so I may wear this as a dress this summer and then shorten it to a blouse at the end of the summer. I definitely like it better with a cardigan which breaks up the print. But I love this for a summer work dress. It is lightweight and floaty. I also enjoyed working with this lightweight fabric and am now inspired to make some Rubies in blouse length with some of the beautiful new lighter weight fabrics that are available now. I especially love these. This is a great summer pattern. I highly recommend it!

 

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Bias Binding, Gemma Tank, Made By Rae Patterns, Pearl Shift, Sewing

Gemma meets Pearl

img_2673-1I had been wanting to try making a Gemma Tank lengthened to a tunic length since last summer when I made a lined voile dress version of the Gemma seen here. For the dress version, I followed Rae’s tutorial and made it with a curved hem. This May I decided to blend the Gemma with the Pearl Shift pattern which works for me in a tunic length so I literally taped the pattern pieces together. This is pretty much the most low-tech mash-up you will ever see but it worked really well and I love the finished garment. I used this great pink and navy bandana fabric from Cotton and Steel. I was inspired to buy this print when I saw a great sleeveless version of the Pearl Shift using this fabric made by Alexia Abegg (who designed both the pattern and the fabric) which is pretty close to what I have made here.

I cut a medium scooped neck Gemma and for the Pearl, I used my much used pattern pieces which I long-ago tapered from about the high waist down to the hem from the Small to the extra Small line on the front pattern piece and from the Medium to part way between the Medium and Small cutting lines for the back. I made these adjustments when I first made the Pearl pattern. I found that the pattern if made as directed was a bit big and the skirt sort of winged out to the sides a bit too much for me. It was sort of a triangular shape. I am bigger in the back than in the front so I tapered the front a lot and back a bit and these adjustments have given me a nice fit that I have used for all my Pearls after the first one.

I literally used one piece of tape to join the pattern pieces so that I could un-tape the pieces after cutting out the tunic. The back pieces seen below lined up perfectly. and the front. I lined the pieces up at the center fold and in the front, because the Pearl is wider, I folded down the top of the Pearl pattern and cut on the Gemma cutting lines to just below the bust dart line:I then took folded away the bottom of the Gemma and used the Pearl cutting lines as a guide, joining the two lines. I then moved away the pattern pieces and used my rotary cutter to make sure I had a nice smooth seam line. 

xxI was using 2 yard pieces of fabric so I basically lined things up to maximize the length and make two equally long pieces. It worked out to be just the right length. One thing I do every time I make a Gemma is to shift the pattern just a tiny bit when I cut the neck as a sort of hollow chest adjustment so it doesn’t gape. Also quite low tech. I shift the pattern piece back after cutting the neckline and cut the rest normally.Once cut out it was like sewing any Gemma. It all came together nicely. I stay-stitched around the neck and armholes. I  used some pink cotton lawn to bind the neck and armholes and for a hem facing.I used this method. And after a quick couple of hours, I was in business. This is the perfect after work attire. I love it with leggings, jeans or on its own for hanging around the house. Finished garment from the back on the front door place of honor.And as worn from the side.  It is just loose enough. Comfortable without gaping.From the back:And from the front as worn with jeans. Make this! You will be glad you did. 

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