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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Made By Rae Patterns, Sewing

Loominous Bianca

The Bianca Pattern is one my favorite patterns. I have made many versions which you can see here. Anna Maria Horner’s Loominous fabrics are some of my favorite fabrics. I have made a Loominous Gemma and a Loominous Cleo. This Me Made May, I made a Loominous Bianca and it might be my favorite Bianca yet. This fabric was originally purchased because I thought it would be great as short sleeved shirt for my husband and I still think it would be but it didn’t speak to him. Lucky for me because it makes an awesome Bianca. I bought it from The Cloth Pocket which is one of my favorite fabric stores. I follow them on Instagram-their feed is outrageously funny- and shop from them online and last March,  I actually took a class there in person when I visited my son who lives in Austin. So fun. They have amazing class space and instructors. I think I will now plan all my trips to visit Steve to coincide with classes I want to take. Seriously. Anyhow, as I started to think about this version of the Bianca, I decided to try sewing it with the facing, per the pattern. I have made all of my others with a lined bodice, something I improvised based on the lined Washi dresses I have made. I usually use a contrasting lining so that a bit of it shows. I think it adds a cute detail. But I didn’t have anything that would work in this case that was the same weight and I wanted to really enjoy the lightweight fabric and a lining would have added bulk so I decided to use the Loominous for the facing as well. And then I had the idea to try sewing the facing on the outside which is explained as an option in the pattern directions, and then I had the idea to turn the facing on the bias as a design feature. I am not going to lie, it was a bit tricky, but I am thrilled with the results. This is before the elastic is added which gives the Bianca its shape.The trickiest part for me actually wasn’t the front bias facing, it was the back neck facing. I am not sure how I did this but it ended up being shorter than the neck on the dress and they didn’t line up. When I realized this was happening, I just folded the excess in the center of the back as I was sewing as if it was meant to be. It actually didn’t turn out badly, thankfully. 

One thing I wish I had done is to cut the pattern pieces out a bit more thoughtfully because I could have totally matched the stripes on the side. They are just a little off. I just didn’t think ahead when I cut out the pattern pieces. But I will definitely do it next time and there will definitely be a next time because I bought this fabric again in this grey and in the cream colorway. You can see in the picture below that I am just a little off matching the blue stripes at the bottom of the skirt. So close! This dress is a bit shorter than the other Bianca’s I have made- about an inch. I didn’t sew a hem facing as I normally do. I was in a hurry to finish it and be able to wear it so I just turned the hem up. I like the shorter length because my plan is to wear it with leggings and jeans but if I make it a second time, I will make it with a hem facing. I like the little bit of extra structure of the hem facing and I feel as though my dresses hang more nicely with that little bit of extra weight. But I am very happy with how this turned out. This was another dress sewn in a day. I sewed it pretty quickly although it did take a bit of time to sew the facing, especially since I was being careful not to stretch the fabric out of shape. Knowing now that I can manage the facing on the outside (and knowing that I have to check my measurements to figure out what I did wrong when I sewed the facing to have the size difference-probably a seam allowance situation) I will definitely be making this version again. I love that this little shift of putting the facing on the outside gives you so many design possibilities.I highly recommend the pattern and the fabric-a winning combination!

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

Loominous Gemma

This fabric + this pattern = totally awesome.I bought this beautiful woven fabric from the Loominous line by Anna Maria Horner last year to make something for my daughter. She has always loved pink and I knew she would love it and so when the line first came out I bought a couple of yards. It is called Big Love, obviously. (insert heart shaped emoji)I originally planned to make a dress for her but when Rae came out with the Gemma pattern, I knew this fabric would be perfect. This is the higher neck version of the Gemma in a size Medium without any modifications. I had sent Sarah a couple of muslins prior to cutting into the fabric to be sure of the fit. My front door is my new favorite place for pictures.I started this project earlier in the summer (along with several other Gemmas) when I had a couple of days off from work. img_3564The thing about this pattern is that the initial sewing goes very quickly and then there is the bias binding which is not terrible but somewhat of a challenge for me. So now I am finishing these projects one by one and today I had time to finish this.I used the method I describe in this post. It worked relatively well although the woven fabric has a bit of give to it and I wasn’t as successful in getting an even binding as I was when I used the quilting cotton. But I wanted the contrast of the visible binding and I thought Sarah would prefer to have a bit more width in the shoulder since she is a teacher and has to wear clothes that aren’t overly revealing.When I uploaded the photos from my phone, I did them in the reverse order that I intended so you are sort of getting a backward looking glance at the binding process, but you get the idea. Back of the finished tank on my front door below. It gets the best light for pictures.img_3574In addition to the details of the other binding method that I use explained in this post and which I used for the hem of this Gemma below, Rae has three fabulous binding tutorials that clearly illustrate several different approaches to the right way to do it here. I highly recommend them. img_3576#beforethebinding picture below.I have several other Gemmas with pink either in the main fabric or as the planned binding and will be sharing them over the next few weeks as I find time to #finishallthegemmas.So this one will be in the mail tomorrow on its way to the Midwest. Hopefully it is still warm enough for it to get wear this season. Who needs Stitchfix when you have Stitchmom? (just kidding, Stitchfix is awesome too!) img_3578You can link to my previous posts about the Gemma Tank here, here and here.

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