Tuesday, November 29, 2016

StyleArc Winsome Designer Dress - into the unknown...

I'm on a StyleArc roll!

And you can tell from the twirly pic that this worked.

When StyleArc released the Winsome Dress pattern recently, I was sold immediately - I love the drawstring detail on the back. I would have bought the pattern just for that - I smoosh and hack patterns all the time. But I was also drawn by all the piecing and seams. And draped pockets and asymmetrical hem. There's a lot going on in this pattern...

I'm always more comfortable starting a new pattern if I can find reviews and tips from other sewists. In this case, I couldn't find any. There are just a couple photos on the StyleArc site, and the dress shown is done in a woven fabric. The suggested fabrics: Crepe, silk, rayon or any fabric that drapes.

So of course I chose to do this in a thin rayon/lycra jersey with 4-way stretch! No-fear sewing for the holidays...but it worked :-)

The fabric looks wavey in some of these pics. But it's really just heathered, no waves or stripes.

My sewing notes:

  • I purchased the PDF version, the 10-12-14 bundle, and sewed size 10.
  • I lengthened the dress pieces by 2" using the lengthen/shorten lines on the pattern (I'm 5'7", and the extra 2" are perfect). 
  • And I added 4" to the sleeve, just because I didn't want to come up short. A couple inches would have been enough. 
  • As usual, I drafted my pattern with 1/2" seam allowances everywhere (StyleArc includes 3/8" seam allowances in the main bits of the pattern and 1/4" allowances at the neckline).
  • I didn't sew the front button placket - that's scary sewing on a thin knit. And IMHO, the placket is kind of  the wrong vibe for this dress - it seems so sporty. Instead, I trimmed about 1/4" from the neckline (I tested to be sure it would go over my head) and finished it with self-fabric binding.  

Sewing the back drawstring casing was easy and fun. Those buttonholes - practice, practice. Putting a buttonhole into knit fabric can be challenging. I settled on a mid-weight fusible non-woven interfacing to stabilize the area, then trimmed away the excess once the buttonholes were done.

A couple pics of the casing and drawstring - so pretty!

The sleeves were way too wide, although they might be fine in a woven fabric. I trimmed away quite a bit (1" or so) from the sleeve seam, continuing under the armscye, and down for about 5". In my next knit version, I'm going to use the armscye and sleeve from a knit dress, maybe M6747.

So - Black Friday. I did my part,  and the stash will be much fatter for it. I also got the Nook Samsung Galaxy Tab A, a Barnes & Noble special offer!! It's terrific. Small, light, slips easily into my handbag, and I can do everything on it! Much better than my old IPad and original Nook. I'm feeling so spoiled.

Bye for now - Coco

Friday, November 25, 2016

StyleArc Toni Designer Dress - start, stop, start again...

Another StyleArc journey - my love affair with them has been intermittent at best! Their wishful line art and drawings are right up there with Hot Patterns. What you see is not always what you get.

I'm a forewarned and an experienced warrior.

However - I've been looking for alternatives to my 'usual' maxi dresses. I get bored! And this dress has intrigued me. I read as many reviews as I could find. And explored images online. I finally took the plunge, bought it (PDF version), and spent a morning with tape and scissors.

I knew going in that I would not do the collar. I don't like collars - not on me and not on most people. Oops - that's a lot of sewists. But it's a personal hang-up. My father insisted that I wear pointed collar shirts in a time when all my friends were wearing peter pan collars. It was painful, and the feelings apparently linger.

Anyway - on to this dress. Fortunately it has a lovely v-neck opportunity without the collar.

I also had to think about fabric. StyleArc suggests 'silk, crepe, rayon, suitable knit'. Since they don't provide examples, I looked at what others had done, and decided that the defining factor was drape. So I decided to try a rayon crepe - read that as drape with a burst of color!

I love how colors vibrate on rayon fabrics. Much more than on cottons, linens, and wool.

Working with this large print - the vertical repeat is a whopping 34" - I decided to cut both the front and the back on the fold. I just didn't want to break up those definitive blossoms.

The fabric is from Fabric Mart, one of their pre-cut buyout offerings. This one was 4 yards for $16. Incredible.

A few sewing notes:

  • I sewed the size 10. I'm 5'7, with a full bust of 35.5"  - 36". The hip measurement on this pattern is not a defining factor, as there is lots of fabric in that area. 
  • But I did add 2" to the length, using the pattern's lengthen/shorten lines. 
  • The biggest change I made was to the line of the side drape. And I have to credit Ruth at CoreCouture for this one - I followed her lead and changed the pattern at the sides, removing some of the outward 'poke', as below.

  • Several sewists suggested that the pattern is a little narrow at the hemline and might benefit from a back slit for walking ease. So I extended the hem outwards by 1", all side seams (as above in my draft), adding a total of 4". And the result works great. It's comfortable in all situations.
  • I also drafted all my pattern pieces with a 1/2" seam allowance. StyleArc uses 3/8" for seams and 1/4" for necklines and collars. Their reasoning is beyond me, but because I use the PDF versions of their patterns, I can suit myself. 
  • I used the facing from the pattern, but did it in cotton lawn, interfaced with knit tricot fusible. I really wanted to stabilize the neckline, something a self-fabric facing would not have done. 
Lots of clipping and basting to turn the facing at the bottom of the v-neck...
About the fabric. I sew with rayon challis a lot, and love it. I enjoy sewing it, and I enjoy wearing it even more. I was curious about rayon crepe, new to me, and I found that it sews pretty much the same as challis. It slips around, moves on any bias, ravels a little more than challis, and has a mind of its own! 

I don't write tutorials myself - I get very irritated by the raft of sewist who do, with poor technique and, often, worse sewing examples. (BTW - I 'unfollow' any blogs that start doing tutorials - I'm that irritated!) But I do try to find good sources and information that I can share. Here's a link to an article, on Sew4Home, that is a nice discussion of fabrics like rayon crepe:

Time for a pic:

The start, stop, and start again...I tossed this dress in the bin twice while I was working on it. It was decidely awful before I got the side seams done and got a good look at it :-)

But I really like it! and I plan more. It's delightful to wear, fun and a little off-beat. 

Ciao! Coco

Tuesday, November 22, 2016

McCalls 6747 - sewing in familiar territory...

Well, I must say this - I am so over my knee-jerk pastel reaction to my gray hair. No more mint. No more pink. No more fluff...

That felt good!

I finished a muslin of the Grainline Studio Farrow Dress this morning, and it, on top of my watercolor floral dress of last week, nearly sent me over the edge.

So moving on and back to what feels more natural for me.

I have so loved the McCalls 6747 maxi pattern - I made 4 versions in cotton jersey a few years ago. And I wore them out.

Time for more, and this first one is a fabric departure for me - I used rayon/lycra jersey instead of cotton jersey (oh, I hope it doesn't pill). And it has a 1/8" stripe. I sure pick some doozies for print matching. Laying this out and cutting it was a beast, my eyeballs felt jittery. But check out that center back seam!

A few sewing notes:

  • The fabric is pretty light, and it has 4-way stretch, 60% horizontally and vertically. I used 1/4" twill tape inside the shoulder seam allowance to add some stability. When the seam was sewn, serged, and topstitched down, the tape disappeared completely - no scratchiness going on.

  • The stripe is so small that I couldn't use it horizontally for the neck binding. So I decided to use the stripe vertically. I love how it looks - it breaks up the dress a little bit.

  • And to balance the binding, and add a little interest to the dress, I used a cuff on the sleeve, also with a vertical stripe.

  • I also raised the neckline, about 1 /34" at center front, and 1" at center back, and adjusted the shoulder width to fit. I'm just a little tired of deeply scooped necklines, plus it's fall/winter season. Seems reasonable.

  • As in my previous versions, I skipped the front button placket and center back slit.

The whole time I was sewing this, I was thinking that it would be a bust - that it would hug every curve and bump and not work at all. However - it's great! I'm not a 'body-conscious lingerie' person. No Spanx or so on. Here I'm just wearing a midi-length half slip, so that the fabric will glide rather than cling.

Great little dress - love it. 

News flash: David whisked his lovely Elizabeth off to Sedona this past weekend. And they came back engaged! Such joy...

Ciao! Coco

Thursday, November 17, 2016

McCalls 6987 Round 2 - the adjustment bureau...

I'm so stubborn. After my struggle to like my first long version of McCalls 6987, I almost immediately searched for different fabric for a second attempt. Honestly, I really like the vibe of this pattern - there is a Lagenlook lady lurking inside me, and she keeps knocking. Kind of fun.

I've sewn the short version 4 times - love it.

This time I tried a quiet seafoam floral challis that I picked up from Fabric Mart's pre-cut buyout. And I really like the balance of the color and the print with the lines of the dress.

However - after hours and hours of cutting and sewing, I was perplexed once again. I loved the way this looks in the back, but the front not so much. I paired it with black leggings, white leggings, and bare legs. The bare legs are an easy nix, but I was torn between the black and white leggings. I looked at these pics every way but upside down, and couldn't decide...

From VividLinen - aren't those great pants!

I was beginning to feel like a long tunic weeny. Maybe I should lift the back a little bit, more like this tunic...

Yes. I took off the ruffle and raised the back 3" (it was loooong in the back). And now I really like it!

All this kept me very busy and interrupted my sleep. I think this white hair (which I love) has messed with my fashion equilibrium :-)

Parting shot: Mr. Cuban Knight anole is back this morning! This one is a juvenile, only about 14" long. Such a handsome fellow.

Ciao! Coco

Re. Thankfulness...

The tissue lady here...thank you, friends, for the warm, caring, and supportive comments on my original Thankfulness post. After about 12 hours, I just had to close it. I was in tears and feeling overwhelmed. Please know that every single one resonated with me and is so appreciated.

The experiences you shared are touching. So many of us are traveling a challenging road - my thoughts are with you. And I hope you also have the joy and happiness of a full life, family, and friends.

From the heart - Coco

Monday, November 7, 2016

New Look 6323 - Love this tunic pattern

This tunic and Butterick 5954 are officially my go-to patterns for knit tunics. A love affair!

I used view B: gathered back, long sleeves, and a bit of sharkbite at the side seam. BTW, I tried to find this pattern online so I could supply a link. And it must be getting scarce - it's not on Pattern Review or the Simplicity site. But it's still on SewingPatterns.com.

The back curved seam and gathered skirt are just so  appealing. And add a little sass walking away...

 And the hi-lo hem is just about perfect. Unexpected and so much fun.

Sewing notes:
  • This is size 12. My very first version, in lagoona interlock, was size 14, and it was just too big for me.
  • I dropped the center front by 1 3/4", trued out to the sides. This decreases the sharkbite effect a little bit and brings the front below the crotch of my pants. Just my preference - I don't care for tops that stop just above the crotch. IMHO, so unflattering...
  • This wonderful fabric is a cotton/rayon jersey from Fabric Mart. It has 80% stretch horizontally and 10% along the selvedge. Fabric Mart doesn't give fabric weights, but I would put this at 6 - 8 oz. It's not sticky (the bane of cotton/spandex), due to the rayon content.

I'm wearing my Essex linen/cotton wide-leg pants in the pics above. But this tunic is also great with my Love Notions Sabrina Slims. 

Last spring I made this in black spun cotton/rayon jersey from Girl Charlee, and for some reason I never blogged it - but I wore it in  in my post on those Slims...  

The black jersey is 6.5 oz. and has 50% horizontal stretch. I hope it comes back to GC, it's so nice for tops. Funny story: I wore the outfit below to my annual checkup in May - when my doctor walked in, she said "you've lost weight". Nooo, but I'll take it!

So - Election Day tomorrow! I voted by mail several weeks ago, rather than try to stand in line with my cane (would they take it away at the door?). I find voting to be so empowering and levelling at the same time - the country feels like a small community when we do this.

And I'm looking forward to watching the election results all day tomorrow to see if I won :-)

Bye for now - Coco

Edited to add: Stirswatersblue on Pattern Review let me know that this pattern has been re-released as New Look 6439 - and sure enough, the exact pattern!