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.



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.


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.




And as worn before I hemmed it.


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.


Navy Double Gauze Valley Blouse

I have wanted to sew the Valley Blouse by Cali Faye since the pattern was first released.  It is a very close cousin to the Voila Blouse also by Cali Faye (and one of the first patterns I sewed) with a slightly curved hem, long sleeves instead of short and a split front bodice joined with a button. I bought navy double gauze fabric last summer from Imagine Gnats and after the new year, this was one of the first projects I started. When I made a couple of versions of the Voila Blouse, I cut out several inches from the blouse width based on Erin’s very excellent recommendation. It is a very blousy blouse and I didn’t need all that volume. I didn’t make a muslin for my Valley Blouse. I probably should have but I decided to just plunge in and I cut between the Medium and Large lines. Then I took about 2 inches out of the front and back panels to reduce the overall volume and lengthened it by about 2 inches. I only had 2 yards of the navy double gauze that I decided to use for the pattern so I cut the sleeves a bit shorter than I normally would have and I used scraps of cotton lawn for the hem facing and to line the bodice.

The sleeves are somewhere between a 3/4 length and full length and I am actually happy with the length despite the fact that they are shorter than as drafted. In retrospect, I would use the double gauze to line the bodice because I think the lawn and double gauze don’t shrink at the same rate and the lawn lining ended up making the bodice a bit tighter than I would have liked but I had to make do with 2 yards. I also have gained a bit of weight and gone up a size or so since I sewed the Voila and a Large is probably a better fit for me at this point. In any event, I ended up giving myself a bit more width across the bodice by sewing the two pieces together and shifting the button. It doesn’t actually line up with the button hole now but I don’t think it is noticeable. When I make this pattern again, and I probably will because I really like wearing it-it is really comfortable-I will probably size up and lose the keyhole which did nothing for me-I actually sewed it together as well because the gaping wasn’t really flattering for me. This was a situation where half way through sewing this project, I almost abandoned it. The neckline felt too low, the key hole gaped, it was tight across the bodice. But then I came back to it several weeks later and made these little adjustments and now I really like it. Some pictures of my process below, mostly so I remember what I did. I find it really helps me if I snap a picture using my phone when I tweak a pattern. I have much more luck when I go to recreate the tweaks at a later date!














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

2017 Me Made May Makes Part 1: Four Cleo Skirts and Two Gemma Tanks

This past May, I set myself a challenge to make several skirts using the Made By Rae Cleo skirt pattern. I had already made three versions so I knew that the fit was perfect and the construction relatively simple and I wanted to experiment with different fabrics. I fell in love with two beautiful cotton lawn fabrics from the Aria collection by Kelly Ventura. This fabric is called Brushed Peony and it is still available. I also decided to make a couple of new Gemma Tanks in solid colors to go with the skirts. I chose a Cambridge yellow lawn to go with these two skirts.img_2182I cut Mediums in both the skirt and tank and added a bit to the length for the tank as I am tall. I don’t actually lengthen the pattern, I just eyeball it and add about an inch to an inch and a half. I cut view B of the Cleo shortened to just below the midpoint of the knee which I find is the best length for me.img_0052-1In preparation for the bias binding, I cut bias strips of the leftover lawn and also some wider strips on the grain to use as a hem facing for the two skirts.img_0206-1Both fabrics were great to work with. Not too slippery but very light and flowy. To save time since I was planning on making several skirts, I eliminated the pocket. I actually love the pockets on the Cleo skirt but since I almost always wear a lab coat at my job as a nurse practitioner, I never use skirt pockets since I have large built in pockets already. I wouldn’t recommend this for most sewists because the pockets are a great design feature.img_2183Since I was making more than one, I basically sewed each step and then repeated the step on the next skirt, etc. They came together pretty quickly. Finished skirt #1 below in Brushed Peony.img_2644-1And as worn on the last day of Me Made May. I had been waiting to finish the yellow tank top to wear with it but alas, it is still awaiting the bias binding which is generally the fate of most of the Gemma tanks I have sewn. My sewing room becomes a Gemma Tank way station until I have the time to sew that last step. I had finished my new white double gauze Gemma, however, and it goes with everything, as seen below.img_4925The second skirt is another print from that same line. I might love it even more. I did the same thing, no pockets and yellow hem facing using the same strips.  img_2671-1And as worn on day 2 of Me Made May with a cotton-linen blend Gemma Tank that I made last year. It also goes with everything. img_0252-1Some pictures of the hem binding process below. This is my go-to approach to binding. It is quick and I love the look of the contrasting hem facing. I also find that having the seam that joins the hem and the hem facing as my guide enables me to have a nice even hem. Every aspect of the hem is machine-sewn so very quick.img_0209




img_0214I hadn’t planned to make the Cleo below but I happened on this fabric at Joanne on sale and really liked it. I wasn’t sure at first what to make with it and considered making a new Bianca Dress but in the end, I decided I loved the striped fabric for a skirt. img_2640-1I used a lightweight white cotton batiste for this hem facing and matched the stripes on the side seams. I cut the waistband across the grain for more visual interest as I did when  I made this Loominous Cleo. I ended up with extra fabric since I had bought 4 yards and cut a Gemma Tank as well thinking that it would be great with jeans. It wasn’t until after I was sewing and had both projects laying out on my ironing board that it occurred to me that I could also try wearing them together to create a dress out of separates. I also found that when I had the yellow bias strips next to the skirt that the grey and yellow looked great together. I am dying to see how all of these skirts and tops mix and match. I just need to finish the bias binding on the Gemmas (story of my life!) Some process pictures below. I used french seams for the Tank because I expect this fabric to fray. I plan to use the white batiste for the bias binding as well using this method. While I was making the grey striped Gemma, I also cut out and actually finished a Gemma from white double gauze which I love and have worn several times. I used the batiste for the bias binding and to face the hem. It might be my favorite garment that I made this month. It is certainly the most versatile. You can see the striped skirt and the white double gauze Gemma in action below. They work well together. I like the crinkly look of the double gauze with the linen-y look of the striped fabric.

The fourth Cleo skirt that I made this month is this green and cream skirt which was inspired by a Ruby Dress posted on Instagram. I really loved the old fashioned feel of the fabric. I wore it this month with my blue Gemma but I know the white double gauze Gemma will be great with it and I am looking forward to trying other combinations. I have a black lawn Gemma that is all sewn and ready to go and just needs the bias binding. (a theme). So finishing the tanks will be my focus this month.img_2654I did actually finish a Gemma Tank that had been mostly finished since last summer (just needed the bias binding). Ironically, when the yellow bias strips were on my ironing board, they were also right next to this Allison Glass Gemmaimg_0086-1 and I realized that the yellow would make a great contrasting binding for this tank so I finished it img_0087-1and wore it on a quick visit to New London with my husband.

I am actually glad I didn’t finish it last summer because I might not have thought to use the yellow and I am really happy with it!img_3077-1 I love this tank with my khaki Pocket Skirt and with denim and white jeans. I know it will get a lot of wear. I made several other garments in May and will be posting details over the next several weeks. And now I have so many new ideas after seeing the beautiful hand sewn garments that were posted by fellow sewists all last month. So much fun. Thanks for reading!

Made By Rae Patterns, Ruby Dress Pattern, Sewing

Plum Double Gauze Ruby Blouse

img_2166The Ruby Blouse by Made By Rae is a pattern I have made before. It is a loose fitting sleeveless top that provides good coverage and is a great basic for layering. When I saw this double gauze version by Rae, it planted the seed for trying this pattern in double gauze for summer. When I spied this plum colored Bespoke Double Gauze by Cotton and Steel on sale at Alewives Fabric, I decided to give it a try. I have sewn two Washi dresses in double gauze and I love the softness of the fabric but it is a bit tricky to work with and it is generally more expensive than the cottons I usually use so I save it for special projects.

I sewed quite a bit during Me Made May but have been very busy with work since then. A couple of weeks ago, I decided to plan some projects that would work together and I gathered some neutral grey and sage fabrics for skirts and some greens and this plum for tops. img_2054When I saw the floral lawn fabric next to the plum double gauze, I realized that it would be just the thing to line the bodice. I also noticed that the plum would be  a perfect lining for a planned Washi in green with pink stars. These garments are hopefully going to be a mini Summer capsule wardrobe one day. I have a sleeveless Beatrix top planned for the floral so I cut those pattern pieces out first to make sure that there would be enough to line the Ruby. img_2153The lawn is such nice lightweight fabric, it is the perfect weight to go with the double gauze and I have loved this fabric from afar for quite a while. I am happy that it will find its way into at least three garments (I have enough left over to face the waistband of at least one of the skirts.) Rae has great video tutorials for lining the Ruby bodice. img_2160It involves something she calls the sausage technique. I have used it for most of my Ruby and Washi garments. It works like a charm. Some steps pictured below.

I get great results every time following Rae’s instructions. Sometimes I top stitch the neckline and sometimes I don’t. I am always nervous doing it because I don’t want to ruin the nice clean finish. Luckily I found perfectly matching thread (Gutermann CA02776 btw). Since I am always worried about double gauze fraying, I decided to stitch it so that the seam would be stronger. I was really happy with how it turned out.

I sewed french seams for the side seams. Your iron is your friend when you are sewing french seams with double gauze. Also a rotary cutter to trim the fringe after sewing the first seam. I use pins to mark the right side of the fabric since it is sometimes hard to tell which is which.

I reinforced the seam with a second row of stitches. The Ruby uses a bias binding for the bottom half of the armhole. The instructions are very clear. One of the trickier parts is sewing the gathers. I hand basted with a contrasting thread before sewing. Unfortunately after sewing them, I decided I wasn’t happy with where I had gathered the fullness. The Ruby is most flattering when the front gathers are mostly on the side. So I spent a bit of time unpicking the nicely sewn seams which was made more tricky because my thread was such a perfect match for the fabric that it was hard to see.

The finished blouse below. I contemplated using the floral fabric to face the hem as I usually do but I decided to save the extra fabric for other projects.

I know this blouse will get a lot of wear. It is comfortable, cute, great for warm weather and for layering under a sweater in the fall. You can dress it up or wear it with jeans. I have another planned in navy and recently bought some white double gauze to finish some Ruby bodices I made last year and never finished. img_2215-1Side view below shows that the armhole is comfortable but not overly revealing.img_2231-1Up next, I have my floral lawn Beatrix blouse planned and a navy Ruby dress cut out and ready to go in this beautiful fabric by April Rhodes. I bought the fabric with a second pair of Luna Pants in mind but then when it came in the mail, it felt more like a Ruby Dress. Does that happen to you too where you buy fabric for one project but then use it for a different one altogether? I have some fabrics I haven’t cut into because I have a hard time committing. They would be great for so many things. I recently found this beautiful fabric in voile on sale and snatched up enough to make one nice project but I haven’t decided what it will be. I am leaning toward a Washi XP like this version by Rae. Time will tell.

I highly recommend this pattern. It is simple enough that even with taking the time on the little details, it is a project that can be finished in a week by doing a little each night. This is how I broke it down: 1) washed and ironed fabric 2) cut out pattern pieces 3) sewed yoke including the sausage and the neckline 4) gathered the front and back panels, sewed the side seams-french seams- and applied the bias binding to the arm holes 5) attached the front and back panels to the yoke 6) hand-sewed the yoke lining to the front and back panel seams 7) sewed the hem and wore it to work!img_2240-1


Made By Rae Patterns, Sewing, Washi Dress Pattern

Nani Iro Washi Dress

I bought this beautiful Nani Iro double gauze fabric at The Cloth Pocket back in October when I visited my son in Austin. I had originally planned to make a blouse but I was inspired by this beautiful dress that Cherie made for her little girl. It is just perfect. I finally got brave enough to cut into the fabric and decided to make another made-by-rae  Washi which is a tried and true pattern for me. I cut the sides a little wider to allow for french seams since double gauze frays. I had good luck with this approach when I made my Charm double gauze washi dress.  I realized as I lay the pattern pieces out that I hadn’t allowed for enough fabric to match the stripes. It is actually a tricky thing to line up stripes on a Washi because the front of the dress is made of two separate pieces and the back of the dress has shirring which affects how things line up. Realizing that there was no way to do this easily with less than three yards of fabric, I decided to just line the pieces up with the darker stripes around the waist and hope for the best. imageI used chalk to mark the shirring lines but I usually end up just using one chalked line and then using the first sewing line to guide the rest of my seams. Shirring using elastic thread  is actually amazingly easy. Rae’s tutorial here.imageI used organic natural colored cotton batiste to line the bodice using Rae’s helpful videos. The lining is understitched, a technique I learned from the Beatrix Sewalong.imageI added a ribbon with snaps for bra strap holders as I sewed the fabric sausage.imageA fabric sausage pinned and ready to be sewn.imageFinished shirring visible as I sew the bodice lining.imageOnce again I used a lightweight quilting cotton in a neutral light pink for hem facing. I have used it for several garments. I have almost run out!imageHem pinned and ready to be sewn.imageHem.imageFinished dress back view. The stripes don’t line up on the side but I am happy with the way the back stripes ended up. The photo bomber is my sweet dog Sadie.imageClose up of the beautiful nani iro fabric.imageShades of grey can be beautiful!




The Pocket Skirt and the Voila Blouse by Cali Faye

imageEarlier this year I made two patterns from the Basics Collection by Cali Faye. They are both straightforward to sew and flattering to wear. I was inspired to make the Voila Shirt by Erin‘s versions on the Hungie Gungie blog. I made the first one in a navy blue Cotton and Steel double gauze. I cut a medium but took about 6 inches out of the width of the front and back of the shirt based on Erin’s recommendations. I was very happy with the fit. The neckline dips somewhat low and I ended up reversing it and wearing the back as the front which actually works.  The shirt is comfortable and I wear it with skirts and jeans. (Somewhat blurry picture of the the blouse with my pocket skirt below.)imageI then went on to make two more Voila blouses with leftover fabric from my quilting days. I thought these cotton floral prints would work well with the shape for summer blouses. imageI made the two blouses at the same time which went fast. I lined the bodice of the cotton versions with white cotton muslin and I lined the navy double gauze version with the shirt fabric. I took 8 inches out of the width of the front and back of the floral shirts since the first navy blouse was still very full even after taking 6 inches of volume out front and back.


imageShirt above prior to hemming.  Shirt below getting bra straps added to lining of bodice.imageThe shirts fit well and the neckline is flattering.imageI made the Pocket Skirt in a khaki green heavy cotton from Joanne’s. It worked well for the skirt and it has become a basic that I wore often all summer.image I cut a large and added 2 inches to the length. Pocket detail below. The construction is very straightforward. imageAttaching the waistband.image

I made a second version in a cotton linen-like print from Joanne’s. imageIn the process of making the second skirt, I realized that I had reversed the front and back of the waistband when I made version one and so fixed that on version 2. Ironically, the second skirt did not fit as well because the front of the Calie Faye skirt is designed with more fullness than the back and my shape is the opposite. Luckily my daughter wears the same size but has a slightly different shape and it fits her perfectly so off it went to Florida where she wore it last summer.image

imageWhen I made version two, I sewed the zipper a bit low leaving a gap at the top of the waistband so I made a button placket to hide the gap. I am happy with how it turned out.imageimageI will definitely be making new versions of both of these patterns. Things I will do differently next time: french seams on the double gauze versions due to fraying, reverse the waistband on the pocket skirt, add more length if I make it in another flowy fabric such as linen or rayon. It was fine at the shorter length in the khaki but I think longer would be more flattering in flowy fabrics.  I would also do hem facings for future shirts and skirts to cut down on fraying.