“Dress”ing for Winter

Hello, everyone!

One of my wardrobe goals of late has been to add some suitable-for-cold-weather dresses to my rotation. I had a few old RTW ones, but they’ve either gotten worn out, stained, or are wayyyy too body-con for the office! 😉 Without better options, I tend to revert to jeans; that’s fine of course, but sometimes you want to feel a bit more stylish to counteract the bleak weather. This month, I have managed to make 2 such dresses–hooray!!

This first garment has been a long time in the planning, but I only just got around to sewing it. Without further ado, here is my version of Butterick 6388 (Beware: yet ANOTHER striped garment ahead–my 4th this year!)

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My face does not reflect how I feel about this dress!

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Hand swish!

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“Oh, this old thing?” 😉

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Back view, very nearly perfectly matched. =/

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Collar close-up (again, so close to perfectly lined up!)

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Back yoke close-up

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Side view (now with 100% more derp)

We took these photos at the same time as those in my last post, so apologies again for the scenery (or lack thereof). And pay no mind to my hair looking layered or feathered–it’s a trick of the flash behind me, and my hair is the same as always. (That is, totally t*ts awesome.) But anyway, back to business!

I have to admit that I don’t usually connect with Butterick designs. However, I loved this pattern the minute it came out: the collar, the angled front pieces, the back yoke, and pockets all make it a cool take on the “athleisure” trend. (Hell, I like the entire wardrobe included in the envelope–who am I?!?!?!?) At first, I had my heart set on a white version–it wouldn’t get much more winter-y than that, eh?–but decided to use this striped french terry instead at the last minute. Why? Well, I do love me some stripes, and this pattern has plenty of opportunities to play with direction(s)! But I was also nervous about such a high, close-fitting collar in solid white fabric: my hair is not safe for white collars in the first week or so after coloring! But having made this pattern now, I think it might be okay–the collar doesn’t come up as close to my hairline as I expected, in part because my neck has #giraffegoals. 😉

Giraffe Goals

Basically me. (You’re welcome.) #giraffegoals

giraffe in the wild

See? I fit right in. 😉

(Sorry-not-sorry, guys. I had to do it.)

I had some fun with my photos AND the stripes on this dress, for sure. My french terry only stretches in one direction, but I figured it was forgiving enough to use the vertical layout on the front triangle pieces and the back yoke, which it was. I did sew the side seams at a 3/8″ allowance below the waist just to be safe though; they are sewn at the given 5/8″ everywhere else. This pattern is pretty simple to make, with the trickiest parts being the back yoke and the pockets (of which more in a moment). The yoke is easy to install if you’ve ever put a knit sleeve in flat, though!

About the pockets: I don’t have them in this dress, which is a big disappointment. I put them in, thinking I was soooooo smart for using the aforementioned white knit for one half of each pocket to prevent stripe show-through. Unfortunately, I got the pieces flipped around, resulting in a big white section right at the pocket opening, grr! I tried unpicking them but between the loops of the terry and my matching thread, that wasn’t happening. (I had sewn them using my sewing machine and a narrow zig-zag.) I cut them out and reinserted them the other way around, then finished up the sleeves, collar, and side seams so I could try the dress on. Aaaaand the pockets were hideous!!! (Well, not aesthetically: I stripe-matched the shit out of them!) They were super gape-y and sloppy-looking. 😦 So in the end, I cut them out AGAIN and sewed the openings shut. Perhaps they would sit better without all the extra ripping and trimming I had to do, but I don’t know. So at any rate, no pockets for Mads this time.

I honestly can’t remember if I lengthened this dress or not–whoops!! I blame the pocket fiasco and the fact that I made this dress a few weeks ago. 😉 If I did, it wasn’t by much. (I am about 5’8″, but have short limbs for my height–giraffe hopes dashed, LOL.) I took 5/8″ for the hem, and the same for the sleeves.

There was enough of this vaguely-prison-striped fabric left to cut out a pair of Hudson pants, which is exciting. I did have to piece the waistband (and take some liberties with stripe matching on the pockets), but that’s a small price to pay for a nice pair of sweatpants in my book. 😀

So that’s one very “jailbird chic” dress down, but I have one more for you: the Sew Over It Heather dress!

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Winter white Heather dress! (My legs are down there, I swear!!)

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Oooh, moody!

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Less moody, more bitchy. xD

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Pockets!!

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Back view (and yes, I will be steaming this after seeing these photos!)

I am wearing black tights in these photos but the black backdrop was necessary to show the dress, so you can’t see my legs!! Trust me: they’re there. 😉

I mentioned my interest in this pattern in my last post and didn’t wait long to buy it. (I wrote both of these posts together, starting them a couple of weeks ago.) I actually joined the SOI PDF Club; you get a free PDF pattern for joining (and if you join before Feb 9, you can pick ANY PDF pattern, not just a PDF-Only one), and the cost of joining was less than the cost of the Heather pattern, even after the discount they’ll give you for signing up initially. (And if you were wondering, I did use that code…to get a discount on the PDF Club membership, because SOI is awesome and allows that. 😀 ) I shopped smart, y’all. 😉 I have to say, I am really impressed with SOI thus far. I don’t know how many of the PDF Club designs will appeal to me, but I’ve been very happy with the two patterns I’ve made and with my shopping experience.

Anyway, you probably want to hear about my Heather dress now! This design is so perfect for F/W here in Ohio. For this version–there will be others!–I used the off-white french terry I had considered for B6388. It’s a little lighter weight than the stripes but still plenty thick for a dress. The construction was very straightforward, but of course the pockets are the trickiest part. I did those steps on my sewing machine just to be safe, and serged the seam allowances after. Apart from needing a good pressing/steaming and the dreaded white-on-white show-through, I think they turned out pretty well! Part of me wishes I had thought to topstitch the princess seams though–next time, maybe. The shoulders are just a bit broad for me, but I expect it’s down to the size I made (and grading principles). It bears mentioning that I made the UK 8, the smallest size; in reality, I need a smaller size in most areas but wasn’t concerned about the fit being a little more relaxed. However, I am pleased to report that the sleeve caps did not have excessive ease in them, which influenced my gushing above.

As for alterations, I added 2″ of length to the pattern at the hemline but that was not necessary! I ended up taking it all back off following a try-on before I hemmed the dress, and then I took a 1″ hem. I should have just measured the dress itself but was influenced by the sample photo on Lisa, which is quite brief! I’m not sure if they altered the pattern to achieve that length or if she herself is just particularly tall. Oh well, no harm done–better too long than too short, right? I did lengthen the 3/4 length sleeves by about 1″, and took 5/8″ for the hem there. I also sewed the side seams from the pockets to the hem at 3/8″ instead of 5/8″ just to be safe, but needn’t have done that in the end. Next time, I will just use the 5/8″ all the way down; I will also probably shorten the next one and bring the shoulders in slightly.

Once again, I’ve got leftovers from this project. O_o It’s a lot of leftovers, too: my material is 1.75 yards wide, PLUS I bought 3 yards of it. I can’t decide what to make with it, but I’m really hoping I’ve got enough left for 2 tops! I know for sure that I want one with a collar; I’m thinking Talvikki or the top version of B6388. What do you think I should make??? Sound off in the comments!

And you people KNOW there are other non-giraffe outtakes, right? Right:

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Testing the stretch factor!

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Nifty blue post-filter

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Half-hearted “Vogue”ing

Jailbird photos for jailbird stripes! (Obviously the best one!!)

There you are: 2 winter-friendly dresses! I admit that neither of them are particularly figure-flattering (hellooooooooo, swayback + hip/waist ratio!) but they are warm and stylish and comfy. I think that keeping them shorter helps–it helps me *feel* less dumpy, anyway. 😉 I haven’t worn my Heather dress yet apart from photos but I’ll wear it how I’ve styled it here, with tights and boots.

Hopefully I will be back here soon with more nifty things! I’ve got plans, though we’ll see what I end up showing you next time–it could be sweatpants or shirts or jeans, or just blatherings about other plans. Let’s hope for the former, shall we? Thanks for reading!

Do you have a “cold weather uniform”? Would you ever Photoshop yourself for the sake of a joke? 😉 How many yards of a fabric do you buy when you haven’t got immediate plans for it? 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

It’s Spring, So Here Are Four Winter Things

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

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. 😦 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. 😉

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. 😉 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!