Saturday, August 23, 2014

Grainline Studio - the Alder Shirtdress!

Alert, Grainline Studio fans - a dress! And it comes in two beautiful sleeveless versions - one with unadorned shirt styling, and one (which caught my eye) with a partially gathered skirt.

Both have classic shirtdress styling: a button-band front, yoked upper back with a dropped front shoulder, front bodice pockets, and shirt-tail hemlines. And yes, bust darts.

I love the gathered skirt. It just adds so much comfort and ease to the dress. 

And it's so good-looking!

You might notice that my dress does not have a collar...I just don't do collars :-) So here are the changes and adjustments I made to the pattern:

  • I drafted from a size 14.
  • Once the shoulder seams were sewn, I reshaped the front to a V-Neck and dropped the center back neckline about 1/2".  And drafted a facing for the neckline.
Fabric: Cotton calico from Holly Lobby

  • The right bodice front has an attached button band, while the left front is has a cut-on facing. I used the left front pattern for both sides, eliminating the attached band. Topstitching gives the appearance of a banded edge.
  • I used broadcloth interlining in both front facings, instead of fusible interfacing. Often I find that fusible interfacing locks and stiffens a facing too much - I wanted to be sure that the front bands were fluid given their length.
  • I added side seam pockets 3.5" below the waistline.
  • I also redrafted the front skirt to be same length and shape as the back skirt. And flattened and lengthened the curve at the side seam so it would be a bit more forgiving to hem! My reasoning for changing the front length - well, I'm 66 and just don't wear mini's anymore! 

  • The pattern calls for faced armholes. I trimmed the armholes instead and used self-fabric bias binding to finish them. This is a comfort thing for me.
  • The bust dart is placed as expected with a Big 5 pattern - I moved it down 1.5".
  • Another adjustment I typically make, I narrowed the side seam at the armhole by 5/8" and cured it down to the waist.
  • The bodice length was spot on! And I'm 5'7". 
  • I added 5/8" to the hem allowance, just so I could be more generous in my hem turn. 
Seems like a lot! But it really wasn't. I generally spend a lot of time with a pattern before I draft my tissue, it's part of what I enjoy most about sewing.

A few more views on Emile...

About the pattern: Beautifully drafted and includes 1/2" seam allowances, my favorite since I like to cut/serge my seam allowances. The instruction booklet is so well done, it should make this dress approachable for many levels of sewists. I've seen a couple versions of this dress on Kollabora and in the blogosphere. I'm smitten.

Ciao! Coco

Friday, August 8, 2014

DixieDIY Patterns - Ballet Dress

Well, I have to admit that I've taken note of all the Lady Skater and Moneta knit dresses running around out there. With elbow or 3/4 length sleeves, natural waists, gathered skirts - it's a great look. But the pattern that really caught my eye is the Ballet Dress by DixieDIY.  

It's not a new pattern by any means. Dixie first released it in 2011. And she revised it in 2013, to address suggestions from fellow sewists: she lengthened the bodice and skirt, and narrowed the sleeves.

I think the reason I like the look of this pattern best is the neckline. It's a little higher and rounder than the others, and it balances the longer sleeves and bodice really nicely.

Ok, it also balances my longer skirt nicely...

I'm not planning to wear a short circle skirt any time soon :-) but doing a change-up on the skirt was easy. The skirt is simply two 27" x 44" rectangles! 

The hard part was matching these crazy thin stripes. I found that the only sensible - if kind of tedious - way to do it was by basting my fabric selvages together before laying out the pattern. I was working with 3 yards of fabric! so I did cut out lengths approximate to the bodice and skirt requirements first.

Not bad!

My fabric is a lightweight cotton/lycra jersey from With 50% stretch across the width, it was a little tricky to sew. Some sewing notes:

  • I drafted my tissue from the size Medium, but took the curve out of the bodice side seam - I simply dropped the side straight down from armhole edge to the bottom of the bodice. This increased the waist width to 34" and added just a little ease to the bust.
  • I also added 2 1/2" to the length of the bodice, front and back.
  • And lowered the back neckline by 1/2".
  • At 14", the sleeves are by no means 3/4 length on me, but I decided not to lengthen them. If you want a true 3/4 sleeve, you might want to check this measurement.
  • To keep those stripes lined up, I hand-basted all my seams before sewing them on the machine. Then I used an elastic (lightning) stitch for the seams, followed by a serged finish for the seam allowances.

  • I used the same approach on the waist seam, gathering the skirt and basting it to the bodice before going to the machine. The result is very elastic, but sturdy enough to support the skirt without additional stabilization. I know that some patterns suggest using elastane tape on the waist seam, but I'm allergic to it. I'm glad this worked without it.

  • Also glad I remembered to cut the sleeve hem allowance on an angle to mirror the sleeve. It always amazes me when a pattern doesn't incorporate this simple detail.

  • Speaking of hems...for this fabric, I serged the edge, turned up a 1 1/4" hem, and topstitched just inside the serging with a straight stitch. 
  • Instead of using an attached band 'collar', I applied binding to the neckline. This is just a piece of cotton/rayon jersey from the stash, cut across the stretch of the fabric.


I love this dress. It fits really well and feels wonderful!

Suddenly it's Friday - wishing everyone a safe and enjoyable weekend. Ciao! Coco

Tuesday, August 5, 2014

August Garment of the Month - Playsuit plan...

August, and time to think about my Garment of the Month. Since it is so wet and hot and buggy and generally awful outside, I think I'll just stretch my already bent mind and sew something really challenging! A playsuit jumpsuit...

Got to stay on trend, right? More than that, I really like jumpsuits. They remind me of the 80's, when I wore them a lot. Well, as much as my budget allowed - the long ones, with buckles and cargo pockets and zippers, done in cottons and khakis, could be expensive! 

In the last two years I've managed to collect four jumpsuit patterns, and I've even put a few on my Pinterest board. I just haven't sewn one.


I finally settled on this pattern from Salme. I really like the off-shoulder 'cap' sleeve, pockets, and belted waist. It also looks a little more finished than many of the patterns coming out from the Big 4 this summer.

And I found this cute calico fabric, Domestic Bliss, from eQuilter. It's about as close as I'll come to sewing a 'sewing theme' fabric - something I've always wanted to do, but this is the first print I've liked.

In case you're wondering, no, I won't be doing shorts! I like long jumpsuits, so I'll be doing my usual redrafting thing. But I think it's going to be a fun project.

Bye for now! Coco

Friday, August 1, 2014

Still celebrating - my Fourth of July dress!

Life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness - with Alexander Henry lovelies! What a way to celebrate. This dress was meant to be my July garment of the month, but I was out of commission until mid-month. No problem - it'll be great for any of our patriotic holidays.

Obviously I love Butterick 5881, the Katherine Tilton layered dress. This is my third dress version (one and two), and I've done a tunic from the top layer as well.

Waiting in the loft is another version for fall, done in a knit. It's already sewn and is really different.

None of mine look quite like the original pattern! I've never done one with the pieced top layer. I spent hours redrafting a one-piece top layer when I first got the pattern - I just like it better.

The trick with this version was figuring out where to put the print. Ummm. I think I did pretty well!

Little details: I've not used the placket on the front or shirring on the back. To replace the latter, I've centered a contrast patch with 3 lines of inserted elastic.

The underdress is white poly/cotton broadcloth, with the attached skirt in contrast fabric. I'm so sorry I don't have a pic of the underdress, but it's cut just like the leopard spot dress (version two referenced above). These opposing hems are so interesting and kind of sassy.

This pattern really is such fun to wear!

Hoping everyone enjoys a nice weekend - Bye for now! Coco