Finally, A Seasonally-Appropriate Thing!

Look at me, back here already! ūüėȬ†Thanks to a recent flash of inspiration (don’t you love those?!?), I have something new to share with you all! What inspired me? FABRIC! (Duh.)

There have been so many incredible tropical prints coming out for the new Spring/Summer season (in the Northern Hemisphere, that is), and many of my favorites were on rayon. I decided that a tropical print rayon had to be my next project! After trawling through multiple fabric sites and not 100% connecting with any designs for me (or balking at the price points of the ones I did like), it occurred to me that I had something perfect in my stash already: a palm leaf-print plum and aqua rayon challis I bought on Fabric.com (NAYY) about a year ago.

When I was re-organizing my stash and found this stuff again,¬†I had planned on making pajamas out of it, but where’s the fun in that?!? The colors are good on me, and in the aftermath of this latest¬†inspiration explosion, I¬†decided I didn’t want to “waste” the print on pajamas. Having decided that I NEEDED to sew this fabric right now, I had to figure out what to make. A dress was the obvious choice, since I had 3 yards of fabric. But which dress?!? While searching one fabric site for “rayon,” some sewing patterns came back (since they listed “rayon” as a recommended fabric) and the Reeta Midi Shirtdress from Named was one of them. (I hadn’t bought any patterns from their Spring/Summer 2017 release and only even liked three of them–that’s normal for me and Named, as their S/S stuff doesn’t jump out at me right away like their F/W stuff does. My love is a peculiar love.) I was struck by the beautiful fabric of the Reeta sample, which is viscose/rayon. I was sold! I bought and printed the pattern 2 Fridays ago and had it put together and the fabric cut later that very night! O_O For me, that’s some high-octane¬†action.

Anyway, here are photos!¬†ūüėČ

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Graceful-ish

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Who’s that happy weirdo?

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That’s more like it!

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Earth Day love!

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My feelings about there being no hammock in the hammock stand.

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Strike a pose

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…maybe not *that* pose. O_o

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Poison ivy in the foreground, nice.

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Showing off the collar and neckline!

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Gotta get the pup in there!

Pretty cool, huh? I love it!! I will probably wear this once a week all summer, LOL! I am especially proud of my pleated breast pockets, which I had never made before this; doing them in rayon challis was “fun” but they really turned out great! Well, except for the fact that the loud-ass fabric renders them nearly invisible despite no attempt by me to pattern-match them…

(Also, what is it with me and making Named dress patterns in ridiculous fabrics??)

I used a contrasting dark teal thread for my buttonholes–livin’ dangerously! I asked my Instagram friends if I should go with matching plum or the contrast, and they (you) voted overwhelmingly for matching thread.

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Testing buttonholes and thread colors!

But I can’t explain it, I just felt like the dress needed this pop of darker blue/green against all the purple. So I disobeyed my pals–sorry, guys!!! I do value your opinions (or I wouldn’t ask!) but sometimes, the heart just wants what it wants! After doing a partial test buttonhole, I realized I needed some stabilizer under the fabric or the results would be a hot mess. (You can see that partial buttonhole in the photo above–yikes!) That meant I finally got a chance to use my Tear Away stabilizer that I bought forever ago. It worked wonders and my buttonholes look pretty fabulous, if I may be so bold. ūüėČ (Especially considering that they’re on rayon challis!) I used buttons that I got from Wawak last year (thank you, Past Me, for judiciously buying multiple dozens¬†of buttons in a few neutral colors). I settled on white in the end, because this dress needed¬†something clean and understated about it.

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Buttons and buttonholes in action!

And now for a “Do as I say, not as I do” moment: I didn’t use any interfacing on this dress. *ducks for cover* I brought down my cotton muslin with all the best intentions of using it, but in the end I decided to see how I liked the drapier quality of the challis on its own, especially on the shirtdress features. The collar was my biggest concern, and I had enough scrap fabric left to recut it if necessary, but I decided I liked it without any firming up. I pressed it carefully, as always, and I think the dress looks well-made and very nice as-is. The collar is very light and flimsy, but so is the rest of the dress. I don’t regret my decision, but I will say that I usually¬†NEVER forgo interfacing, and neither should you. ūüėČ I just liked the idea of a totally breezy midi dress this time around! Actually, while challis is a perfectly acceptable fabric for this pattern, a rayon poplin would have been my IDEAL material. Maybe I’ll get my hands on some eventually!

Pattern Alterations

As per usual, I couldn’t get away without making some fitting adjustments. I added my usual-with-Named 1″ at the bust line front and back and adjusted the shoulder slope of the front piece (adding 1″ to the outer edge at the armhole and tapering into about 1/4″ at the neck opening). I got away without needing to move the bust dart, which is always nice! I was not so fortunate when it came to the armholes though, having fucked with the shoulder slope at that edge to the tune of 1″, and therefore adding length to the armholes. Since this is a sleeved garment, that extra length needed to be added to the sleeve cap as well. This tutorial does a good job of showing how to add length to a sleeve cap without also enlarging the bicep of the sleeve. That’s the method I used, and I walked/measured the¬†pieces afterwards to confirm that they would be compatible.

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All the altered pattern pieces!

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Sleeve piece after cap height was added

Finally, I took¬†a bit of length off the hem, because 1.) Named already drafts for a height of 5’8″, and I am at most 1″ taller than that, 2.) I added 1″ at the bust and another 1″ at the outer shoulder (which does add length to the dress overall), and 3.) my legs are short for my height, proportionally. This should be a midi dress, and it was hitting me well below that point. All told, I took about 2-3″ off the original hem length; I also opened the side splits a bit so they were close to the original length, since they had been affected by¬†my hem shortening extravaganza. I trust Named’s proportions on design, and wanted to make sure I didn’t lose that effect; based on the modeled photos on their site, mine are damn close.

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Side splits, doin’ their thing.

All that said, I should have checked the pocket placement after doing so much lengthening: they’re a bit low, but I think only by about 1/2″. And if I’m being picky, the dart point could stand to extend about 1/2″ closer to the apex. But all things considered, I think the dress fits very well.

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My beautiful pockets! Just a touch too low, but NBD.

Construction Notes

The Reeta dress was fairly simple to assemble–if you’ve made a shirtdress before (or a shirt!), you can do this. However, things got a little more complex thanks to the convertible collar with facings (as opposed to a stand + collar + button band combo) and the use of a yoke facing. You can’t just do the burrito yoke method and get a perfectly clean finish everywhere, so don’t get cocky like I did: I sewed my burrito and came back to the directions to find that I should have done it their way. I unpicked back to the part where both the yoke and yoke facing are sewn to the dress back and started again from there. It was complicated at¬†the end, simply because the instructions are fairly short, and the illustrations weren’t clicking for me right away.¬†Just go slow, make sure your mind is fresh, and keep checking your assembly against their instructions. The resulting finish is impeccably clean and fully enclosed, and you won’t regret taking the extra time!¬†(I did manage to sew my collar on upside-down the second time without realizing until after I was done with the whole shebang, so all my careful rolling of the seam was wasted. GRRRRRRRRR.)

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Finished yoke/facing/collar/dress thing–whew!

The instructions would have you use purchased drawstring cord for the waist, but I am of the opinion that this¬†tends to look cheap. #sorrynotsorry I made my own 1/4″ drawstring out of my fabric by cutting a 1″-wide strip, turning the short ends in by 1/2″, pressing the whole strip in half length-wise, opening it back up and pressing both raw edges to the center crease length-wise,¬†and then pressing THAT mess in half length-wise along the center line and sewing down the open edges. Still with me??? O_o I didn’t bother with a bias strip either, just a straight grain one–not only is that unnecessary for this application, I didn’t have the yardage anyway!! I used some rayon seam binding for the casing–it’s only 1/2″ wide but if you sew it right at the edges, it’s no problem to fit a 1/4″ tie through it.

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Waist tie casing, made from Hug Snug seam binding.

OH! And despite that drawstring waist, there is NO waist seam on this dress. So your front and back pieces (and front facings) are LOOOOOOONG. As such, I can’t recommend playing Pattern Tetris with anything but your sleeves, collar, back yoke, and pockets on this one–trust the fabric requirements, folks.

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All that’s left of 3 yards of fabric: daaaaaaaamn.

Conclusions

So there you have it: another wildly successful Named project! I am so glad to have one much-needed Summer/Spring dress added to my wardrobe, especially since I used fabric AND notions that I already had on hand. That’s right: the only thing I bought for this project was the pattern, which I would have eventually bought anyway. Sewing doesn’t get much better than that, does it? ūüėÄ Well, Tom did find a way to make it slightly better, thanks to his epic Photoshop skills. This dress has now “theoretically” crossed time and space, making it The Greatest Ever:

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I dare you to beat THIS on #tbt

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DRESS…….IN…….SPAAAAAAAAAAACE

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“Mads” the Mountaineer!

And speaking of kickass Summer dresses, I think I will do a planning post for a summer wardrobe next. I desperately need more options for that season, and it is coming on fast! My goal will be to use only stashed fabric, and to focus on those patterns I already own.

In closing (FINALLY), I will leave you with one final me-made-related thing! We did band photos a few weeks ago (UGH the week before my hair got touched up–that figures), and I decided to wear one of my Inari dresses for the shoot! I am so pleased that I got to wear something that I like and feels like “me,” that I think looks “cool,” and that I MADE for band photos. SEWING ROCKS!!!

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Sitting in my car with 6 weeks of roots, waiting for the rest of the group to arrive. ūüėČ

See you all soon!

What have you been sewing lately? Do you ever curse yourself for choosing a tricky fabric for garments that require precision? How do you feel about the midi trend: LOVE or HATE? 

 

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It’s Spring, So Here Are Four Winter Things

Well, this post took me long enough, didn’t it? ūüėÄ

I don’t talk much about my non-sewing activities on this blog, as¬†I’m fairly sure they’re boring. But back in January, I decided to audition for a 90’s alt-rock cover band and guess what? I GOT IN!!! I’m really excited–that¬†genre has been a long-term love of mine from back when I’d sneak downstairs on Saturdays to watch MTV as a kid–but it’s been a lot of work. I have to learn not just the existing set list, but a whole host of other¬†songs we want to add as well; then there’s the weekly practice, which takes most of an evening after work. I’ve had a really hard time adjusting to my new obligations when it comes to time management, so a top that I started for Jungle January took me until¬†March to pick up again (and it was a FAIL–salt in the wound). Yikes! To be fair, I was also working feverishly on some hand-knitted birthday gifts for my bestie (2 pairs of socks and 1 cowl), so any spare craft time went to those items first. (And yes, they were delivered on time!) Here’s hoping I get used to my new extracurricular activity and make more time for sewing, eh?

So anyway, I had hoped to be sharing a leopard-print blouse–that I started in JANUARY–with you today. Unfortunately, I am still without a leopard print garment. ūüė¶ Since M7436 is¬†a big ol’ shirt, I didn’t bother doing any flat pattern measurements. Yeahhhhhh, my lats and shoulders were too big for the shirt. (Thanks, one year of varsity track and field!) I’m bummed, since I had been looking forward to this top being done after 2 months of not having time for it but badly wanting to wear it. Lesson learned: MEASURE SHIT.

To console myself, I jumped headlong into something else. I had bought some sweater knits–my first ever–on Fabric.com about 3 months ago and have been eager to use them. Here they are!¬†(NAYY.)¬†I have also been wearing the same busted-ass pair of Forever21 sweatpants for 5 winters (and falls…and springs…) now and was due for at least one new pair, so I bought some french terry knits from Urban Rag Trader¬†(NAYY) for those. So while I meant to be showing you all 1 new thing, I have 4 different-than-planned things to share instead!

First up: M7471, View B!

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A good depiction of the drape of the front.

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Closer look at the front collar

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Back wing-a-lings in action

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We made the same face!

I have to admit that I wasn’t sure how this top would work for me–the envelope photo looks a little¬†too oversized, but I loved the idea of it based on the line art. I picked View B because it had all the elements I wanted: straight hem, long sleeves, and no ruching. I am really, really happy with the finished top: it’s a winner! I don’t think it’s too much fabric at all, and the shape of the top is interesting and stylish (but very, very easy to sew). It also used a lot less fabric than I expected: I had 2 yards of my knit, and I still have enough left to use for something else! The key, I think, is to pick a fabric that drapes well; otherwise this top will look like you are wearing a pile of fabric in heavy folds. Just my $0.02, anyway.

Pattern Adjustments

The only adjustments I made to this pattern were vertical: it would have been a belly top on me otherwise! O_o (If you go to the pattern page on the BMV website, look at the model in the red top–that’s the one I made, and that’s about how short it would have been on me…no thanks.) I added 2.5″ at the waistline (which is marked on the pattern) and gave myself an extra 1.5″ at the hem; I only took a 5/8″ hem. I left the sleeves alone after taking some measurements and deciding they were fine as-is.

Construction Notes

Like I said, this top is dead simple to make. Just beware of the instructions: they have you baste the shoulders and necklines together, and then tell you to fold down the front collar at the fold line (after you’ve basted PAST it), baste that down somehow, and then sew the shoulder/neckline seam for real. DO NOT BOTHER WITH THAT. I blindly followed the directions to that point and then realized I’d be sewing the same thing twice, for no good reason.¬†I unpicked my basting from the foldlines on up, folded the collars down FIRST, and¬†then basted everything. So much simpler.

The instructions also have you sew the side seams before setting the lower sleeves…yeah, nuts to that. I put the lower sleeves in flat and whipped up the side seams and sleeves in one pass with the serger.

Next up is M7538, View A:

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Front view! You can see the top overlaps due to my fabric being lightweight…

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Back view, which is basically identical to the front (right wraps over left, etc.)

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Boob crossover in action! Nursing or soon-to-be-nursing folks, this top could probably easily be hacked for access! (I am neither: just an idiot who plays with her clothes.)

Now if M7471 has flown somewhat under the radar, THIS pattern is one that got everyone’s attention when it was released. It BEGS to be color-blocked. So of course, I did the most boring thing possible with this awesome pattern and just used 1 color for the entire thing. Style FAIL. ūüėČ

The only things I would change if I make this one again (and I think I will) are to add a little less length, take a wedge out at each upper back piece near the shoulder blade, change the shoulder seam slope just slightly (those two factors cause the shoulders to fall down during wear), and use a heftier fabric. I think my hatchi knit is a bit too lightweight for this pattern, so the crossovers at the bust show through and look a bit bumpy. But otherwise, I am happy with this one.

Pattern Alterations

This is one of those tricky patterns for long-torso’d people. It clearly says, “No provisions made for above-the-waist adjustments.” So if you need that length, you have to figure out how to add it. My solution? Slice all the pieces except for the top ones along their horizontal¬†centers and add 1″. I also added some¬†amount at the hem, 1.5″ maybe? (Can’t remember, sorry!) It was definitely enough length, and I ended up taking a lot off the hem before hemming the top (it was covering my entire ass). There are a couple of spots on the body that are too long as well, so I’ll make further adjustments if there’s a “next time.”

I also went for half-length sleeves, hitting at my elbows. I thought long sleeves would be too much of this color on me, and with the low necklines front AND back, it wasn’t ever going to be a “keeping warm” shirt anyway. I also prefer shorter sleeved tops under cardigans and other toppers, so it was an easy choice. Since that length isn’t in the pattern, I just measured my arm to where I wanted the sleeve to hit and added 5/8″ hem allowance to that.

Construction Notes

Make sure you transfer your markings carefully–you’ll want them. The top looks like a bunch of twisted, overlapped fabric strips, but really it’s just clever pieced construction.¬†Orienting your pieces is really the only challenge in this pattern, and even that isn’t difficult if you were careful from the beginning. I did opt to baste all of my pieces in place before serging.

I have mentioned this next bug-bear before (when I made my Jungle January dress last year), but I encountered a very bloated sleeve cap on this pattern: it was just way, way excessive for a pattern designed for knits. On top of that, they expect you to set the sleeve rather than sew it in flat. I’ve found McCall instructions for knit patterns to be old-fashioned; they will get you there in the end, but there is almost always a better way than they recommend. Food for thought…

And last but not least, 2 versions of the True Bias Hudson Pants:

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Pair #1! (Photo was lightened somewhat to show the detail–black fabric is hard to photograph!)

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Back view

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Using those pockets!

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Side view

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Puppy time!

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Blue pair!

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Wayyyyyyy stretchier than the first pair!

Having made the men’s version of this pattern before, there isn’t much new to say about the original women’s version. The pattern goes together very easily, though I did deepen the pockets by about 1.5″ and omit the drawstring at the waist. I made the smallest size and cut the elastic to 7″ shorter than my high hip measurement (I made no adjustments to the waistband pattern piece for my size). My only issue is that the black french terry fabric isn’t as stretchy as I need it to be, so the ankle bands make that pair hard to take off!

I didn’t add any length to either pair–both my fabrics stretch on the grain slightly (or in the case of the blue one, about as much as on the cross-grain) and I didn’t really care if they ended up full-length or not because I don’t wear sweatpants except at home.¬†I think I got away with it because of the stretch of my fabrics, because the Hudsons are designed to be dropped in the crotch, and because I have a small butt and short-for-my-height scrawny legs. I also wear these at my high hip, and not at my waist. YMMV, so check the rise and leg length if you aren’t sure!

So there you have it, 4 things! Hopefully I won’t be gone as long before my next post–I have some plans but that’s never a guarantee. ūüėČ Just in case it takes me a while, here are some cute Mulder photos to hold y’all over!

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THAT FACE.

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Happy model pup!