Saturday, July 26, 2008

Wall-E Dress

This is what we did with the Wall-E fabric:

We made Simplicity 3900, our TNT little girls's dress pattern. It may look familiar- this is the pattern I used as the jumping off point for Cherry Blossom and for the Asian Princess dress from last year. Incidentally, Savannah wore the Asian Princess dress a couple of weeks ago while we were out shopping. While we were in the Disney Store, a man with a young daughter stopped us and asked us where we found the dress. He said it was an awesome dress. I was tickled because I got to say that I made it, and because it must be cute if a dad noticed it!
Sadly, the pattern is OOP, but if you have it in your stash or know someone who has it and will let you use it, I highly recommend it. It a great pattern for customizing your own look.

The Wall-E fabric is 100% cotton. We chose this black cotton with white dots as our contrast fabric and this school bus yellow cotton/poly broadcloth as our accent fabric. The front bands, hem band, and armhole bindings are piped in yellow, and of course, the sash is yellow. Here's a close up of the bottom band:

I decided to add the yellow buttons to make it a little different from the previous two dresses, and because they just went so perfectly:
The Princess loves the dress. She's already announced that this will be her "First Day Back to School Dress." She's also informed me that she wants a matching pair of capris to wear underneath it. Those may have to wait until after the Wardrobe Contest.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

To Enter or Not to Enter

What do you do when a miniature fashionista demands that you make her a dress out of this?

Stay tuned and find out!

Meanwhile.... I've almost psyched myself up to enter the Mini Wardrobe Challenge on Pattern Review. The objective is to make a four piece wardrobe that includes at least three different types of garments and three colors, and results in four separate and distinct outfits. Here's what I've come up with for my story board:

I'm calling it " A Little Bit Asian." My inspiration fabric is this dramatic Asian print cotton that I've been saving for something special. I've chosen a Cheongsam styled top (McCalls 4381) and a straight skirt (McCalls 4369). Both will be made out of the cotton print so that when worn together they will give the appearance of a dress. I chose Simplicity 4020, the kimono version, for the second top. I've wanted to try it for some time, and this is as good a reason as any to go for it. I haven't chosen a fabric yet, but I'm thinking a solid, or tone-on-tone ivory or perhaps a green pulled from the colors in the print. For the second bottom piece, I'm thinking New Look 6606, which is a simple, wide leg pants pattern. I may substitute Simplicity 3756, though. I will have to see if it's available at my local fabric store this weekend since I don't have it in my stash. I haven't chosen a fabric for the pants yet either, but I'm thinking a neutral color- perhaps khaki or tan. (As always, all plans are subject to change at my whim!)
So I have three types of garments: Top, Skirt, and Pants. And I have three colors: Red, Green or Ivory, and Khaki/Tan. When (if) all is said and done, I will have four complete outfits.
The question is: Can I get all four pieces completed, photographed, and reviewed between August 1st and August 31st? I honestly don't know.
What I do know, is that I need to hurry up and get my two current WIPs, NL 6799 and the Wall-E project done and out of the sewing room by next Thursday, July 31st! I don't want them languishing while I focus on this wardrobe challenge.
By the way, I wore the Brown Dress to work today and I've made up my mind. I do like it!

Saturday, July 19, 2008

A Brown Dress

McCalls 5576 is done. And not a moment too soon. I'm not sure yet just what I think about it. I originally chose this pattern because I thought it might work for my curvy figure. It's a cute and trendy shift dress from the front, but it has darts in the back and some subtle waist shaping, so I thought it just might work for me without looking like a shapeless, unflattering sack.

I actually made this dress for the first time a few months ago- without success. I thought that since it is loose-fitting, I could get away with fitting my shoulders and starting with a size 14. My first muslin was a straight 14. It was entirely too tight across the bust and the hip area needed a little more ease as well. So I did a second muslin trying to add room across the bust, and yet a third trying to take out some of the extra room which I somehow put in the wrong place. Eventually I gave up. But one thing I did realize from these muslins was that this dress just won't work, at least not for me, in a woven cotton fabric. It was just too stiff.

I wondered if I would have better luck with a drapier fabric- and a bigger size. So during the last 99 cent sale at Hancock Fabrics, I picked up another copy of this pattern, this time in a size 16. I had this embroidered gauze in my stash which I thought would be just about right for trying this again. I'm not sure what the fiber content is, but it must have some poly in it because when I was pressing up the raw edge to hem it, I melted a hole in it. Oops!

I started Round 2 with a new muslin- a straight size 16. It looked pretty good. The dress is roomy, so there was plenty of width through the bust, but I got diagonal drag lines from the bust points down to the waist. There didn't seem to be enough length in the front. So I made an adjustment to the front pattern piece to add length over the bust. I think the problem with my first couple of muslins, is that I tried to make my adjustments to the yoke piece and that didn't work. This time, I only altered the dress below the yoke.

To add one extra inch of length, I slashed the pattern front through the bust point from the center front foldline to the side seamline, leaving a hinge at the side seam. I also made a vertical slash from the yoke seam to the bust point leaving a hinge at the bust point. I spread the tissue so that there was one inch of extra length across the front between the bust point and the center front. I had to spread the seamline above the bust just slightly so that I could make my cut edges parallel to each other across the front. This added approximately 1/8 of an inch to the yoke seamline, but I figured this could easily be eased into the yoke and it was. You can just see my adjustments in the photo above.
The finished dress turned out okay. I was very happy with it up until I sewed the sleeves in. In all the excitement of making the FBA, I forgot to check the fit of the sleeves and they turned out a bit snug. I wish I had added about 1/2 an inch to the sleeve width. It's alright, though. They're not so tight that they're unwearable, but if I were to make this again (and I probably won't- just because after four muslins and one finished dress I'm just a little bit tired of this one) I would definately add to the sleeve width. And the sleeves were kind of irritating, too. I had to really stare at the pattern instructions for a minute to make sure I did them right. It took two nights to get both sleeves assembled and sewn into the dress. The good thing, though, was that the sleeves are finished and then set into the dress. So once the sleeves were in, they were done- no hemming left to do! I really liked that.

I may have to wear this one a couple of times before I make up my mind completely on whether I like it on me or not. I need to get some different shoes, though. Maybe some strappy brown sandals.

Sunday, July 13, 2008

What's on Tap?

It's been a big sewing weekend here. I've made muslins for two different dresses and now I'm moving on to the real thing. The first dress is McCalls 5576:

I'm making View C, the green one in the photo with the longer sleeves. I'm using a chocolate brown gauze embroidered in turquoise and cream. If the dress turns out, it should be quite nice. I've only done four muslins of this dress (more on that in a later post) so my doubts about its success have more to do with the fabric- it doesn't want to cooperate with me!

The second dress is New Look 6799:

I'll be making view C, which is the plain black, slim skirted version. I'm using a stretch cotton, which, coincidentally, is also chocolate brown with large flowers in turquoise and cream. I'd also like to make View B, the pink version, but I haven't found a suitable fabric yet.

I am also still working on my latest smocking project, Miss Daisy from AS&E #58:

This is an adorable little sundress that buttons down the front, ties on the shoulders, and of course, has a sweet little sash in back. Oh, and it's smocked with an easy half space wave pattern and embroidred in Lazy Daisy (detached chain) daisies. My version will be hot pink microcheck:

(You can see Summertime Pink behind the pink microcheck piece. See, I really did start them at the same time!)

I have been really slow about getting to work on this project. I just haven't really had the time or inclination to do a lot of hand work lately. But Project Runway 5 starts this week, so I anticipate at least an hour a week of smocking while watching TV for the next few weeks! And of course, I really need to get this one finished because the way the Princess is growing, I want her to get to wear it a few times before it's too small!

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

Final Review

Simplicity 2996 is finally finished- buttons, hem, and all:

I made view B, the short sleeved, flared skirt version. I cut a 14 through the neck and shoulders and a 16 from the underarm down using the D-cup front pieces. I didn't make any adjustments to the pattern pieces, but once the dress was sewn, I decided the bust point was just a tad too low, so I took in the princess seams just below the bust about an eighth of an inch.

I used a stash fabric- a 100% "hand-dyed" cotton with all-over chain stitch embroidery that I purchased at Hancock Fabrics last summer. I didn't have quite as much as the dress called for, so I had to add a center back seam to the back skirt panel and I was unable to make the belt. I had planned on shopping for a belt to wear with this dress, but now that it's finished, I really don't think I need it. I probably could have used a sway back adjustment, but I'll have to wait for the next version.

This dress was super simple to construct. The pattern is very well drafted and the instructions are good. I was surprised at how quickly and easily it went together. Not that I expected it to be difficult, but it just seemed like all of a sudden I looked down and I had an almost complete dress! You gotta love it when that happens!

There aren't really a lot of details to this dress. It's a basic princess seamed dress with a slightly dropped waist seam. The only "special" detail is the sleeve tabs, which are entirely decorative (the button is sewn to the sleeve through the tab- no buttonhole). The sleeves are slightly gathered, but the minimal gathering acts more to give the top of the sleeve some shape- there is no "puff factor"- at least in my opinion.

I am really pleased with this dress. I originally bought the pattern for view A, and I still might make it or view C for Fall. I won't make View D, though, because I don't like the dropped waist with the gathered skirt. View C has some interesting ruching detail on the bodice, and A is just a nice sleek dress that looks like it would be a nice choice for the office.

Saturday, July 5, 2008

Simplicity 3744 Redux

You may recall that I made S3744 last year. Well, I've made it again:

I wasn't really planning on making it again, but this was one of those instances where the fabric had its own ideas. I had originally planned to use this fabric to make the Threads Shirtdress, but it told me it wanted to be something a little bit more mod, so here you go. You really can't argue when the fabric speaks. I love this fabric, by the way. It makes me think of sliced kiwi. It came from Hancock Fabrics and it's a quilting cotton type fabric. The black is Kona cotton.

I made a straight size sixteen with the D-cup front pieces. I moved the bust dart up 1/4 inch, but I didn't make any other changes until the dress was mostly put together and then I took an extra 1/8 inch out of each side seam at the waist and an extra 1/4 inch out of the side back seams at the waist. I probably could have even gone down to a 14, but I wanted this to be loose, cool, and comfortable. I decided not to line this dress. I lined the first one and when I lost weight it seemed like too much trouble to take the lining apart to alter it. Not this time. If my weight fluctuates, I will be able to make adjustments easily. I did, however, serge everything inside except the armhole seams which I zig-zagged. (The armholes are too small to try and maneuver them through the serger.)

I still haven't had a chance to get more buttons for S2996, so it still is not finished. But remember way back when I started Summertime Pink and I said I actually started two smocking projects? It's time to get back to work on project #2. The Princess says I haven't been sewing for her enough lately so I thought I'd get to work on a new dress for her. Stay tuned for a new smocked dress coming soon!

Thursday, July 3, 2008

Sneak Peak

Here's a sneak peak at Simplicity 2996:

It's not quite done yet. It still needs a hem- as soon as I decide how long I want it to be- and it needs buttons and buttonholes. I want to use faux mother of pearl buttons like these that I've already sewn to the sleeve tabs:

Unfortunately I only had two in my stash and it's an hour drive to the nearest fabric store to buy more. I hope to get more this weekend and get this dress finished. Then I'll post a review and share the low-down on this pattern. But let me just say this much- I'm pretty pleased with it.
And while I'm posting, I'd like to say thanks to all the folks who left kind comments about my last project, the Safari Dress. I really appreciate them. I wanted to reply to them individually, but I've had some family activities going on in the last couple of weeks that have seriously curtailed my computer time here at home. Just know that I really appreciate that y'all took the time to stop by and leave a comment.
And now, I'm off to work on my next project, Simplicity 3744 Redux.