Thursday, July 19, 2018

Winter Wear All Summer Long

I needed a swimsuit cover up. I hadn't had a decent one in years. So, when Suzanne Winters of Winter Wear Designs announced the theme of Winter Wear summer blog tour would be "Pool Side", I knew just what I would make for it.


I had a length of nearly sheer, light and drapey, mystery knit in my stash. White, with big blue roses. Pretty and airy. Honestly, I have no idea where it came from, but it was clearly perfect for a swimsuit cover up.


Suzanne suggested her Amuse Boho dress pattern for a cover up, so I took the idea and ran with it.


My fabric draped perfectly for the gathers under the front yoke, and was light enough to make the 3/4 length sleeves comfortable - perfect for providing sun protection when I'm not in the water.


The pattern offers two different options for the back of the dress; one straight, sold piece from neck to hem, or a separate yoke, like on a button down shirt, with the remainder of the back cut a little wider and gathered on to the yoke. For my cover up, I chose a combination of these two options.



In the left hand corner of the above picture you will see the pattern piece for the back of the dress. If you are making the plain back, you would cut down the gray and black line on the right, from neck to hem. If you chose to make the yoked and gathered back, you would cut off the very top of the pattern piece along the solid black line corresponding to your size. You would then cut out  two separate back pieces for your dress; the yoke and the lower back, cut wide to be gathered into the yoke. I trimmed off neither of these sections and instead opted to add a little extra fabric by cutting the back out as one solid piece, the same width as the gathered lower back piece would have been. I then pleated the extra fabric at the very top to make it the same width as the yoke would have been. This gave me a solid, one piece back, with the fullness of the yoked version.


I top stitched down my pleats and was thrilled with the effect they gave to the finished garment - perfect for throwing on over my swimsuit to head to the pool!


My cover up turned out just as I wanted it to, but I decided it wasn't good enough. Or more accurately, it was good enough, I just needed more. I needed a second cover up that could double as a normal, every day looking, dress for those pesky errands that sometimes must be run on the way to and from the pool. The slight sheerness of my new cover up prevent it from being that. 


Enter, the Magnolia Dress! When I first saw this dress on the Winter Wear website, the back caught my attention. 


That fabulous triangular back insert! It was just so much fun! I couldn't resist asking Suzanne if I could sew up this dress too for the blog tour. She very kindly agreed and I went fabric shopping.


Both a length of blue floral double brushed polyester jersey (one of the softest fabrics ever!), and a coordinating plum colored rayon jersey, came home with me from the fabric store. I printed off the pattern to begin on my dress, and was thrilled to discover there were pattern pieces for pockets!! For once I didn't have to add my own pockets to a dress pattern!


Pocket, and a fun back? Oh yes, I quite like this dress. It works very well as both a swimsuit cover up and an easy wearing summer dress for those days I don't feel like picking out an outfit (or finding a non-wrinkly cotton sundress in my closet). It's been worn probably twice a week since I finished it last month!


So, it would appear, I am now set when it comes to garments to wear over my swimsuit. However, when I get stuck on a theme, I just have to continue with it. Thus, when Suzanne offered all of the blog tour participants a chance to sew her latest pattern, the Endless Summer Shorts, I jumped on it. 


After all, I justified, some days you just don't wanna wear a dress and shorts are more practical to throw on over your swimsuit. I did need some new shorts. . . and, I already had fabric in my stash I could use to make said shorts.


The shorts came together easily one evening, and I had fun trimming the pockets with rick-rack. The finished shorts fit beautifully! This is quite possibly the first shorts pattern I've made that hasn't required any sort of pattern alteration to look good and be comfortable. I'll be using it again next time I need to add shorts to my wardrobe.


Now, if you give a seamstress a shorts pattern, she's going to want a tank top pattern to go with it. One that's loose enough to throw on over a swimsuit. None of the tank tops I've recently sewn met that last requirement, as they're all pretty form fitting.


Thankfully, Winter Wear Designs has a nice, basic, quick and easy to sew, tank top pattern, the Trendy Tank. (and it's even free if you join their Facebook group!) So, I downloaded that, and made one out of a green rayon jersey remnant I picked up at Joann's. 


The tank top turned out cute and comfortable, and was easy to make, So, I thought "Why not make a second?" I pulled out what was left of the thin white and blue knit from my swimsuit cover up (the garment that started this whole craze, turning this into a very long blog post), and made one more tank top.


To avoid see-through-ness, I decided to make my second trendy tank double layered. I cut my pattern out twice from the left over fabric, one layer slightly longer than the other for a fun look, then proceeded to sew it up using the burrito method - an amazingly easy way to construct a lined sleeveless garment. The final tank top almost feels too elegant to wear over my swimsuit, but I like it just the same! 


I suppose I can no longer say I'm in need of clothes to wear over my swimsuit. After this blog tour my closet is stocked full! A swimsuit cover up, a comfy summer dress, a pair of perfectly fitted elastic waist shorts, and 2 new tank tops.  I think I'm all set now! Which is good, as I've still got a few more weeks of taking this kids I nanny to the pool every other day, and then I have a beach vacation coming up in a couple weeks! With this haul of summer clothes, packing should be a breeze!


Now, if you want to see more options for Summer clothes from Winter Wear Designs, here's the rest of the tour!

Pull up a lounge chair and a cold drink, and don't miss a single stop on the Poolside Blog Tour:
7/16
Jackie Burney for Winter Wear Designs
Meriel of Elli and Nels

7/17

7/18

7/19
Diane of Sewing With D

7/20
Livia of Liviality
Patricia of Sew Far North

Wednesday, July 11, 2018

The 1895 Minerva McGonagall Tea Gown - Finished!

Well, I did it. It's done! My 1895 tea gown, inspired by Professor McGonagall in Harry Potter, is completed and wearable!


In the late Victorian era, a tea gown was primarily an at home garment. It was what an upper class lady would wear while she was at home resting between visiting friends in the morning, and before dressing for dinner in the evening. Fancy loungewear, if you will.


In this context, the best place to photograph my tea gown would have been the parlor of a 120 year old house. Unfortunately, I did not have one of those readily available for my photographic needs. So, after considering my options, I decided a local replica 19th century schoolhouse would suffice for my photo shoot. After all, this gown was inspired by Professor McGonagall, a teacher at Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry. Thus, lacking a 19th century mansion, I decided to do a Minerva McGonagall photoshoot, and the school house felt fitting. (English castle ruins were also in short supply.)


Photography location explained, let's get on to the good stuff! How does one actually wear a tea gown (that doubles as a Hogwarts teacher costume)? All one piece, my tea gown slips easily over my head. I wear it over my standard 1890's undergarment - a combination corset, corset cover, and 3 petticoats. Now, as tea gowns were loungewear, there is some debate whether or not they were worn with corsets. After all, it is easier to lounge without a corset on! Personally, I have decided to wear my corset under my tea gown as I like the 19th century silhouette it gives. However, I also made the tea gown easy to adjust if I ever chose to wear it without a corset.


The tea gown settles at my hips, like a skirt, then I pull on the sleeves.


Once the sleeves are on my arms, I fasten the twill tape waist stay around my waist.


Next, the bodice is fastened. As tea gowns are meant to be easily put on and taken off in the middle of the day, all my fastenings are on the front and I can easily do them up myself.


First, the bodice underlap is fastened in place with a hook and bar. Then the bodice overlap is fastened in place, also with a hook and bar.


And with that, the tea gown is securely on and all that's left to do is smooth the front "over dress" in place.


The front "overdress" hides the skirt placket and the side seam pockets, because every good dress has pockets!


Pockets, they are the perfect place for concealing things,


Such as wands. Every set of wizards robes must have a wand pocket after all!


And with that, I am Professor Minerva McGonagall, ready to teach young witches and wizards how to transfigure things!


Let's pretend for a moment, shall we, that the beautiful gardens surrounding the school house are the grounds of Hogwarts Castle?


Let's set off exploring, beautiful silken trains trailing behind.


Honestly, the back of the tea gown my be my very favorite part of it.


Originally, I'd planned for the back to be all one fabric, no center back contrast, just like the original. However, I didn't have enough silk jacquard for that to work. So, I took a hint from this 1880's tea gown and made the train, flowing down from the waist, from black silk satin.


And I absolutely love the result! It definitely turned out better, or at least more interesting, than my original plan would have!


It's the layers and different texture that make this tea gown so much fun!


The green, and the black. . .


The streaked satin, and the jacquard. . .


The velvet ruffles. . .


The bodice pleating. . .


The front layers. . .


The sleeve dimensions. . . 


And the back train.


All together it makes one perfectly fun, fabulous, and magically inspired tea gown.


Perfect for wearing while instructing stone statues to defend Hogwarts;


Or relaxing in a garden like an 1890's lady of leisure.


I now have a beautiful gown that works for both activities!


What more could I ask for?


If you have not followed along with my 1890's tea gown making journey so far and want to catch up, check out the links bellow!

You can find out how I got the inspiration here.

Check out the tea gown I decided to copy here.

See how I made the pattern here.

Read the struggles I ran into mocking it up and cutting it out here.

And observe how it all came together here.


A huge thank-you to my friend Bretta for taking all the amazing pictures for me!


Now, what costume should I start on next??