Friday, November 25, 2016

Butterick 6409 - Black + white geometric print dress in wool rayon

I am currently on the hunt for thicker-weight fabrics with draping properties to make winter dresses out of. This Marc Jacobs border print wool-rayon woven from Mood Fabrics caught my eye because I know rayon fabrics to have a great amount of drape and combined with wool I thought it would be perfect for winter. Also border print fabrics are fun to work with. I used Butterick 6409 for the pattern and made a few minor tweaks.

There are lots of ways to use this fabric creatively because it has a thick border on one side and a thinner one on the other. It also has areas of plain black along the selvages. I used the top half of the thick border for the bottom of my dress and the very bottom of the thick border for the sleeve cuffs. With the smaller border I made a belt.

This stuff sewed and pressed like a dream. It really is the perfect weight for winter, especially if you want to forgo a lining. If Mood had other patterns or colors I would snap them up in a heartbeat. The color is kind of a dusty black and can look like a midnight navy in certain lighting.

I cut a size small for this dress and I'm typically a 12 in big 4 woven patterns. The fit is perfect - not too much fabric through the bust with a bit of ease in the shoulders. I also really like the sleeves. Sometimes these types of sleeves have too much fabric in them but these have just the right amount. I left off the button and lapping cuff. That's just extra work when the cuffs fit easily over my hands.

This design relies on a drawstring for its shaping through the body but I find those to be kind of a pain and take too much re-adjusting throughout the day. Instead I used the casing pattern piece and made an elastic waist.

Dressform pictures:

I planned to wear a belt with it but I tried on every belt in my closet and didn't like any of them. I then thought I might add the tie back in to the front but I never need bulky stuff going on around my middle. Somewhere along the line the idea to make a fabric belt popped into my mind and I LOVE how it turned out. Now I want to make fabric belts for everything.

I used french seams throughout because they're pretty and there weren't that many construction joints anyway. The hem I did by hand as I usually do. The stitches for that completely sunk into the fabric so I decided to secure the neck facing by hand instead of top-stitching it down.

I love to wear these types of dresses in my day-to-day life and am thrilled with this new addition to my closet. When it gets a little cooler I'll pair it with tights and flats and be perfectly warm.

Note: The fabric used in this post was purchased with my Mood Fabrics monthly allowance, as part of my participation in the Mood Sewing Network.

Sunday, November 6, 2016

Vogue 9183 - Winter white wool dress w/ black lace overlays

I've just finished a classy wool dress for fall/winter that I'm in love with! The idea for this garment has been floating around my brain for years and I'm just so pleased to see it turn out exactly how I imagined.

I knew I wanted to play around with lace motifs and needed a lace that I could cut into that wouldn't fray. The one I used is from Mood fabrics and is all sold out but here is a black 3D guipure lace that's similar. The white is an ivory wool twill also from Mood fabrics and also all sold out. (Sorry!) Mood as lots of other wool twills available. Their anemone red is a particularly beautiful color that would go great with black lace.

The pattern I used is Vogue 9183. It's a simple shift dress that's fitted through the bust and skims over the waist and hips. I was intrigued by the neckline of this design and the absence of side seams. I did not make a muslin first as I figured it wouldn't need much fitting past the bust. I cut a size 12 through the bust and waist, tapering out to a 14 through the hips. Thankfully it fit without needing any adjustments.

To make this dress I sewed the ivory wool body pieces together first and put in the zipper. Then I put the dress on my dress form and figured out how I wanted the front lace piece to lay. When it was completely pinned on I took it off the dress form and slowly stitched the lace on by hand with millions of tiny stitches. I went all around the perimeter of the lace and did some stitching in the middle as well. When that was finally done I put it back on my dress form and repeated the process for the second lace piece. Then I had to figure out the lining because this patten is unlined. Usually putting in a lining just involves using the provided bodice pieces but since this dress has a neck facing that's folded over and incorporated into the design, the lining was no picnic.

Dressform pictures:

Here's a closeup of the neckline. I think it looks kind of 60s mod.

I used an antique white china silk for the lining.

The sleeve head seams were covered in bias tape for a clean finish.

This dress took forever to complete! I actually thought I'd finished it a few weeks ago and posted it to the Mood Sewing Network for October. However, the more I looked at those pictures the more I felt like something was off. Every once in awhile I'll change my mind about an aspect of my sewing after I see it photographed, and for this dress it was the sleeve length. Perhaps elbow-length sleeves just aren't flattering on my body or maybe something was off with the proportions. I'm not sure. I cut the sleeves off to the shorter length and trimmed a bit of the sleeve head along the way. I like this sleeve length much better. I'm still not completely satisfied with how the sleeves look from the back of the dress but I am moving on. And trying to not be obsessive. That's hard for a perfectionist.

Note: All fabrics used in this garment were purchased with my Mood Fabrics monthly allowance, as part of my participation in the Mood Sewing Network.

Sunday, October 30, 2016

Vogue 9061 - Black + metallic turquoise midi-skirt in Carolina Herrera brocade

I ordered 1.5 yards of this gorgeous Carolina Herrera brocade from Mood fabrics a year or so ago without having any plans for what it would become. It's so beautifully vibrant in color, and the concentrations of turquoise over the black reminded me of brushstrokes. It sold out quickly, however, but was priced at $35/yard.

I had enough fabric for a sheath dress but thought that might be a little too formal for my lifestyle, so went with a skirt instead. The pattern is Vogue 9061, a relatively simple fit-and-flare style with inverted pleats and a side zipper. Surprisingly, this pattern is now out of print. (Wow, that was fast! It feels like I just purchased it.) I was planning to make the shorter length but had some left over fabric along the selvages that I had a lightbulb moment over what to do with. It became a midi-skirt instead, with the bottom hem band cut on the cross grain.

Usually with this quality of fabric I make sure to sew up a muslin to test the fit. However, the inverted pleats are the only things forming the waistline, and those are easy enough to adjust. I cut a straight size 12 but did need to let all the pleats out by 1/8".

I like midi-skirts to hit my legs right where the calf starts to curve in towards the knee, which on my body is 27". This pattern is drafted to be 30" long, so I trimmed 1 5/8" off the bottom of the skirt body and 1 3/8" off the hem band.

Dress form pictures:

This pattern does not include a lining. Those aren't difficult to add by any means, but I had to think about what order I needed to sew my seams and how I would deal with inverted pleats on both my outer fabric and my lining. I ended up sewing the side seams and hem band of the brocade first, then hemming it and installing the side zipper. Then I sewed the side seams of the lining together and sewed it invisibly by hand to the zipper opening. I then did the pleating along the top by treating the brocade and the lining as a single layer. When they were pressed open I stitched in the ditch on the outside to secure the pleats from moving around.

The inside waist band is interfaced and slip-stitched to the lining for a smooth finish. It holds the skirt securely to the waist, much like a waist stay does, which is needed with this weight of garment.

The only other thing of note is that I've started stitching the hems of my linings to the outer fabric with an ease pleat, like I do on any lined jacket. I have hemmed those two elements separately for all of my sewing career, but inevitably some threads come unraveled inside the skirt and hang down, needing to be clipped from time to time. This method encases all raw edges and I love it. There is a bit more hand sewing involved to slip-stitch it on, which I really enjoy. I'm weird like that.

I think this will make a great holiday party look as I've styled it here or with boots and a cropped sweater for church. It's definitely a dressy garment. This was a super fun thing to stitch up and all my fabrics behaved themselves nicely. I'll definitely be using this pattern again. (Still can't believe it's OOP already!)

Note: The brocade from this post was purchased with my Mood Fabrics monthly allowance, as part of my participation in the Mood Sewing Network.