Liberty Fabric, Made By Rae Patterns, Sewing

Emerald Dress by Made by Rae

Back in May I was inspired to make the Emerald Dress from Making Magazine, designed by Made by Rae. I didn’t actually think that it would flatter my body type but I was intrigued to try sewing a garment on the bias for the first time and Rae’s pattern have such clear instructions and such lovely, flattering lines and generally fit me without alterations so I decided to go for it.

This pattern is a free download once you buy the magazine. Because the pattern pieces are cut on the bias, it requires  more fabric and very precise cutting when you are cutting out the main pieces.

I was up for the challenge. I had a 4 yard piece of a striped lightweight cotton from the Loominous line by Anna Maria Horner. I had bought it on sale a couple of years ago thinking it would be good for backing a quilt. I thought the stripes would be interesting with this design. I deliberately did not match them at the seams because I thought it would create more of a sense of movement. Taking my time to cut things out carefully was actually nice for a change. I am usually a batch sewing queen, cutting out several things at a time to be more efficient but I find that I really enjoy the process of sewing a new pattern one step at a time and taking my time. It becomes a really meditative process for me. I moved my two largest cutting boards down to the dining room table and used a large clear quilting ruler to line up the fabric on the bias using the stripes to guide me.

I cut on the S/M lines based on my bust measurement of 37″ and took my time. I added two inches to the length by drawing a new cutting line for the hem about two inches below the pattern line so first version has a skirt that flares just a bit wider than as designed. To compensate, I cut the hem facings a bit wider on each end. I am 5’9″ tall and I always add 2 inches to Rae’s tops and dresses since my height is all in my torso. I did not interface the hem or hem facings but I did interface the neck and arm facings.

I found this lightweight woven nice to work with but I found that lining up the V sharply proved a bit challenging. I got there in the end but I had to do some creative wrestling including cutting the facing edge at the bottom to allow it to spread a bit. I ironed everything into submission and added a row of stitching just around the neckline. I sewed the facing edge to the dress from the outside not the inside as the pattern calls for because my stitching looks nicer as topstitching.

I was actually surprised at how much I liked the final version. You can see a bit of stripe matching serendipity here. I didn’t try to match and didn’t really want it matching because I think it is more interesting that way but I like how some of the stripes come together at the side seam. It really accentuates the sewing lines. After making it, I thought about sizing up a bit in the neck and shoulders so it would be a bit more drapey. I used my bust measurement for the sizing but on closer reading, the high bust should have been my guide and I should have cut between the S/M and L/XL lines. I thought about changing the size when I made version 2 but as I wore this one, I decided I liked it as is. The stripes don’t match on the opposite side seam and the front seam has the stripes in slightly different alignment on the two sides which I like. I have always preferred things to not be too matchy matchy so this made me happy.

I had thought this would be a beach coverup caftan type thing and eventually that is what it will become but I have actually worn it out to my book group and to the office. I love the way it feels when worn, very comfortable, swishy, flowy and light for summer but with a polished, flattering neckline. Rae does it again!

After May was over, I took a couple of weeks off from sewing for a family visit for a graduation and when I got back, I kept thinking about making a second version. I really like making things at least twice because it gives me a chance to fix things I missed on round one.

I had a 2 yard piece of a dusty rose linen-rayon blend from fabric.com. I don’t even remember why I bought it, possibly to make another York pinafore and it would have been great for that, but I knew it would work well for this pattern because of the drape. Since I just had two yards and no stripes to deal with, I altered the angle of the pattern pieces when cutting it out so that they are on the bias but on a slightly less sharp angle. You can see it in the picture above. I cut the pieces out on the doubled fabric rather than flat so the angles would all be the same. I didn’t have enough for hem facings but I used a scrap of liberty, always a great solution!

I hadn’t intended to interface it because I wanted the hem to not be stiff but the floral pattern showed through the pink so I ended up using interfacing. I sewed this second version slowly but still completed it in a day. I had the same issue with my neckline and cut the V apart on the interfaced facing at the bottom and then sewed everything down. It is fine though not as neat as I would like on the inside. But honestly, that is no big deal. I drafted simple bias facings for the sleeves and didn’t interface them again because I wanted a drapey feel for the sleeves. I really love how they turned out.

And now, many pictures of the finished dress. On the front door:

and as worn.

This dress is great dressed up but would also be good as a more casual look with a chunky pullover sweater (I am looking for the right one) and clogs or with a jeans jacket and more casual jewelry.  It could totally go from a dinner out or church dress to a walking along the beach dress.  And I think it is really flattering despite my initial misgivings.

Jessica (@kunklebaby on Instagram) made a beautiful version in a blue and white ikat. I may totally copy it!

Happy summer sewing friends!

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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.

View 1:

View 2:

 

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

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Helen's Closet Patterns, Liberty Fabric, Sewing

Seersucker York Pinafore

This has been the summer of the York Pinafore. It has been really hot in the Northeast and when I made my first versions of the York, I realized that it would work well with many hand-sewn tank tops in my wardrobe and be a cool, loose work uniform. I also love that it can be made with 2 yards of fabric and that so many fabrics I already owned worked well for the pattern. So a couple of weeks ago, I cut out three more versions: one practically a duplicate of my much-worn linen-cotton version seen here using scraps left over from this Gemma:

When I originally bought this linen-cotton fabric 3 years ago, I bought a large piece and had many plans for it. I used it to make this Pearl shift which I love but never used the rest of it so had quite a bit in my stash. It turns out it was just waiting all this time to become a York or two. I also cut  one in a lightweight navy linen that I bought this year when I decided that I needed more linen in my life and a third in a cotton seersucker that I bought on sale this spring (and can no longer find where I bought it) which I hoped, but wasn’t sure, would work well in terms of drape. It is so lightweight, that if it did work, I knew it would be great for the 90 degree days we have been having. Turns out it worked great and I love it.

For all of my Yorks, I have lined the pockets. It occurred to me early on that it would be quicker to do that than to turn all the edges under and would simultaneously enclose and finish all of the pocket edges. I am really happy with how this has worked. Here are the pockets of my newest Yorks, all lined up with the top edge topstitched and ready to be sewn onto the front of the pinafores, along with a Ruby blouse bodice that will likely work well with all three. I like the challenge of making pocket linings and bias binding from fabric scraps from prior projects. I am not sure I am really saving a ton of money with the large amount of fabric I purchase but it at least gives me the illusion of thrift and I like the challenge of finding scraps that will work. I have used cotton lawn and voile as linings because I didn’t want to add a lot of bulk to the pockets and change the drape of the garment.

Here are the pocket pieces from my seersucker York ready to be sewn. I cut out the pocket piece from the main fabric and then use that as my template to cut the lining. I generally make the lining a bit larger and then trim once everything is sewn together.

Here are the pocket pieces sewn together and then turned right sides out prior to topstitching.

When I sew the pockets, I cut two of each of the pocket pattern pieces-one from the regular fabric and one of the lining fabric- and sew them together except for the seam that will eventually be sewed into the side seam, I then turn the pockets inside out and press and then sew to the front piece of the pinafore. Then I sew the side seams with wrong sides together and then again with right sides creating a French seam. Lots of trimming of fringe and stray threads happens in between sewing the two seams. I wasn’t sure how French seams would work with the pockets but I am here to say, 6 Yorks later,  that it has worked great. Here is a close-up of the edge of the pocket turned up so you can see the lining. I used a floral cotton lawn by Liberty of London left over from this blouse.

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And here are some pictures of the finished garment.

Front:

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Back:

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Inside view so you can see the trim:

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And as worn.

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I love that little partially hidden pop of floral liberty fabric. I am wearing my Seersucker York with my white double gauze Gemma Tank. I will be making another or these (or two) this winter as it is my go-to top. Goes with everything.

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I used leftover solid cotton lawn when I sewed a York in a cotton-linen canvas print: navy for pocket linings and bias binding and yellow for the hem facing. 

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The canvas was so crisp it was a pleasure to sew with.

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And here are the finished views:

Inside so you can see the bias binding and hem facing:img_2634

Finished front:

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And finished back view:

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And as worn:

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Most of my cotton lawn scraps come from the many Gemma Tanks that I made over the last few years, many of which work with my Yorks, creating endless mix and match outfits. Is it any wonder I keep making York after York? I have some pink linen fabric that I bought earlier this year planning to make a top but now I can’t get a pink York out of my head. Stay tuned!

 

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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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