Thursday, July 16, 2020

Simplicity 8051 in Bright Green - 4 Years to Complete 4 Patterns

Four years ago, in June of 2016 I shared this picture of four vintage reprint or vintage inspired patterns I intended to make. That summer, I successfully completed three of the four.

First, I made Simplicity 8085, and I loved it so much, I made it a second time. (And a third time last week!) Next, I made Butterick 5708. Finally, I made, and then fixed, Butterick 6322. All three dresses were wonderful additions to my wardrobe and still get worn regularly. What about Simplicity 8051? Well, it took me a while, but as of last month, that dress is finally completed too!

Summer 2016 came and went. I didn’t get around to making this pattern, and after that summer I pretty much forgot about it. Until last fall.

I was pondering the design of my bridesmaid’s dress for my brother’s wedding and I pulled out this pattern. The bodice had potential for a bridesmaid’s dress. I decided I might as well make up this sundress real quick, just to see how I liked the bodice on me.

I’d long since used the fabric initially ear marked for this dress on another project. So for this "quick sundress" I went through my stash and found 3 yards of a bright green fabric featuring white tropical flowers. A nice crisp piece of cotton given to me by my grandma a while back. It would do nicely for this design. 3 yards of fabric is a little on the short side for this particular pattern, but by using a different fabric for facings and pockets, I made it work.

I cut out the dress, then completely changed my mind about the design of my bridesmaid’s dress. The pieces of the green sundress got abandoned in the project basket next to my sewing machine for the next 8 months.

Finally, in May I decided I was not allowed to start any new modern projects until every single project in that project basket was completed! In June, I made it down to the green dress.

I put it together in the evenings after work, a little bit at a time. In less than a week, I had it done!

I added some fun decorative stitching around the yoke, because I happened to be making this during “Use a Fancy Stitch” week in the 52 Week Sewing Challenge Facebook group.

I finished off the back of the yoke with two little heart-shaped buttons, picked up at an antique mall at some point in my remembrance.

When I tried the dress on, I was pleasantly surprised by how well it fit! 

I’d added a little bit of extra length to the gathered section of the bodice when I cut the dress out, in hopes that the gathered section would end under the bust, the way it’s supposed to, rather than mid-bust, as things of this style are likely to do on me without alteration. Apparently, I guesstimated just the right amount of extra length!

The back of the dress is a little loose, but not too bad.

The only issue I found during that initial try-on was the fact the open back of this dress does not work well with a bra.

I solved that little problem by butchering an old strapless bra I hated, and sewing the cups into the front of the dress.

And with that, the last of the four patterns I intended to make summer of 2016 was completed.

Just like the dresses from the other three patterns, this one is a welcome addition to my closet.

Another cool, comfortable, easy to wear, summer dress.

A nice full skirt with pockets and a fun bodice - what more could I ask for?

The only problem? It took me 4 years to actually make this thing!

Thursday, July 9, 2020

The Long Overdue, Amazing, Simplicity 8085 Fruit Bowl Dress

This dress has been 4 years in the making.

Summer of 2016 I made Simplicity 8085 for the first time - and I loved it!! Immediately, I knew I needed to make this pattern again, and again, and again. So, a month later, I made a second version. This second version got worn just as much, if not more, than the first version. Something about these dresses just made them comfortable, and beautiful, and practical for just about every activity. I would have made a third version of this dress that year, except I got distracted and decided to go on the World Race instead. 

While on the World Race, I found a length of fabric in Ghana, which just begged to be turned into another version of this dress. It was a bright red with a print of apples and pears. As soon as I saw that material in the fabric shop, I knew it was coming home with me.

Of course, I figured I'd make this dress immediately upon returning home, but you know how it is, always more projects than time. The dress didn't get made summer of 2018, or summer of 2019. Every once in a while, I'd think "I need to make that dress", but there was always something else I needed or wanted first. That changed this week.

I'M OFF WORK ALL WEEK!!!!!!!!!! Time off work has been very rare since the pandemic hit in March and all the kids' external activities were canceled. My sewing time has definitely taken a hit. But this week? The kids are with Grandma, and I'm home, doing allllllllllll the sewing. It also happens to be my birthday week, and I really can't think of a better way to spend my birthday than with some quality time in my sewing room. (Yes, I might be a boring person. . .)

As of the end of last week, my list for this week included a couple things for my grandma, a couple things for my sister-in-law, and a pattern test. *If* I got all that done, then maybe I would take the time to make a new summer sundress for myself. Sunday, that plan changed.

I saw that the 52 Week Sewing Challenge theme for this week was "Sew Your Favorite Pattern". Well, I've been saying Simplicity 8085 was my very favorite sundress pattern ever since I made it the first time. Why not make this dress a priority this week? It could be my birthday gift to myself!

Out came the pattern and the fabric Sunday night. I'd pre-washed the fabric last summer, so all it needed was a quick iron and it was ready to go!

 Fabric ironed, it was on to cutting out! On my first version of this dress (the green one) I lowered the neckline a bit as the neckline on this pattern looked a little high for my taste. This proved to be an excellent decision, but I forgot to lower the neckline on my second version of this dress (the purple one). 

So, on this third  version of the dress, I made sure to cut my neckline a touch lower. I think I lowered it by about an inch, maybe 1.5", maybe 2". I didn't measure, just eyeballed it.

On the first dress I found the bust darts too be too high. On the second dress I lowered the darts 1", and they fit perfectly! So, I did the same for this dress.

Since I remembered to do both the neckline and dart alterations, the result is the best fitting bodice of the three versions of this dress I've made!

On my first dress, I chose the option that buttoned in the back and made a separate belt to complete the look. On the second dress, I hacked the pattern to have an attached button belt. For this one, I chose to have the dress fasten with an attached tie belt. This closure option is actually included in the pattern, so no hacking was required.

The tie belt is fun, and I appreciate the adjustability of this option, but I think my favorite closure option for this dress us the button belt hack I did last time. 

On the first two dresses, I did a faced hem - lace hem tape on one, bias tape on the other. For this dress however, I opted to do a nice wide turned up hem.

As this dress has a circle skirt that required some easing and little tucks in the turned-up section of the hem. I've had some practice hemming circle skirts, so this wasn't too hard, and I'm quite pleased with the result! 

The hem is lovely and even and the skirt hangs nicely.

As a finishing touch, I decided to trim the neckline and back opening of this dress with some pink rick-rack from my stash, which just perfectly matched the pink in the pears.

I had just barely enough of the rick-rack to go around the entire opening of the dress! It goes from the hem on the overlap, up and around the neckline, and down the underlapping side, where it ends about half an inch from the hem. Yep, just barely enough.

All the edges of this dress (minus the hem, of course) are finished with a facing of red, pre-made, bias tape from my stash. The pattern recommends binding the edges in double-fold bias tape, but I prefer the clean look of a bias facing, and it is no harder to do than a bias binding.

For previous versions of this dress, I've made the skirt with a center front seam and no side seams, as  that's the way the pattern is made. I've added patch pockets since there were no side seams to put pockets in. For this dress however, I altered the pattern to eliminate that center front seam and have side seams instead, as that worked best with this print. 

As a result, this dress has my normal inseam pockets! I actually kind of miss the patch pockets from the other two dresses, however, so I may go back to that next time.

With no buttons or zippers this dress is a fairly quick sew. I cut it out on Sunday, easily sewed it entirely on Monday, and still had time to run errands and start a project for my grandma.

Yesterday evening, as my mom put the finishing touches on my birthday dinner and my sister decorated my birthday cake, my brother and I went outside to get pictures of this dress.

In honor of the origin of the fabric, I styled the dress with some fabulous beaded earrings I also got in Ghana back in May or June of 2017.

And I wore the cowboy boots I bought specifically for the World Race, then wore all 11 months of my trip.

It feels so good to finally have this dress made! I love it and intend to wear it just as much as the first two!

The perfect birthday gift to myself! (And hopefully not the last version I make this pattern! I need another, and another, and another. . .)

Tuesday, July 7, 2020

A Casey Skirt with EXTRA POCKETS (Super Secret Zipper Pockets!!)

My Brijee Patterns Casey Skirts are the most worn skirts in my wardrobe, especially in the summer. Those huge pockets, the below-the-knee length, and the pleated A-line shape make them practical for just about all of my summer activities (most of which involve keeping up with children. . .).

I first made this pattern when I tested the pattern early in the summer of 2018. I quickly discovered I wore this skirt too much to only have one in my closet, so by the end of the summer, I'd made a second one. Both skirts were worn on repeat, so that winter I got to pattern hacking and made a winter version out of an impulse fabric buy.  This winter version was worn almost as much as the summer versions, so yes, more Casey skirts were absolutely in my future! 

When I went to Japan in June of 2019 (please note that, yes, I wore my Casey Skirts on that trip) I bought 3 yards of a blue striped textured cotton (almost like a seersucker) to make another Casey skirt from. Like most of my projects however, I did not get around to making said skirt right away as I'd intended to.

Fast forward to the end of August 2019 and I was preparing for my first trip to Uganda. I was trying to figure out what to pack for this short trip, and, of course, my Casey skirts made the list. However, there is one thing that makes these skirts less than ideal for international travel. Those beautiful, huge, pockets? They are very easy to pick-pocket. (Trust me, I've had a 4 year old steal my phone out of these pockets on more than one occasion. . . If he can do it, anyone can) This isn't something I was worried about in Japan (as it's actually safer there than in is here in the U.S.), or even in rural areas of Uganda, but it is something to be extra aware of when it comes to cities and tourism areas.

That's when I came up with the idea to add more pockets to the Casey skirt - secret in-seam zipper pockets, which would be hidden by the large, fabulous, patch pockets. As soon as I struck on this idea, it was happening. Out came the pattern, out came the blue Japanese cotton. The skirt, complete with extra pockets was cut out! Then. . . I ran out of time to actually make it before going on that September trip to Uganda.

The pieces of this skirt, ready for assembly, sat in the project basket next to my sewing machine until the first week of January, the week before I left on my second trip to Uganda. I certainly wanted this skirt for that trip as we'd be doing a few more tourist-y activities and be in towns and cities more than I had been on my first trip. With this in mind, I sat down and made the skirt.

I used this pocket scarf tutorial from Patterns for Pirates to figure out how to make a zippered in-seam pocket. (Sorry, I have no pictures of actually installing said pocket, I was too busy figuring out how to do it to think of taking pictures while doing it.)

To put it as simply as possible, I first used thread tacks to mark the placement of the large patch pockets. Then I sewed up the side seams and installed 7" zippers in those seams, inside the patch pocket markings. Next, I put in the inseam pockets, almost like normal, I just made my pocket openings line up with the zipper. (My pockets are anchored at the waist, because that's just how I prefer to make my inseam pockets, it keeps the strain of the pocket off the side seam.) Finally, I very carefully sewed on my patch pockets, being sure to keep my inseam pockets from getting sewn over in the process.

From the inside of the skirt, it just looks like normal inseam pockets!

And from the outside, all you see is the patch pockets - same as my other Casey Skirts!

Phones, money, and other such items can be zipped away in the secret pockets.

Or, if the risk of being pick-pocketed is low/non-existent, items can just be tossed in the patch pockets like normal!

Those hidden zipper pockets gave me peace of mind when I visited the Source of the Nile in Uganda - a big tourist attraction!

Dipping my toes in the Nile River - how often do you get to do that!?!?
And beyond the amazing extra pockets, this skirt is just a really nice summer skirt!

Cool and comfortable to wear while visiting mentor kiddos in Uganda!

And just as cool and comfortable to wear all summer keeping up with my nanny kids here at home!

This skirt is just as much a favorite and just as often worn as my other Casey skirts.

This skirt is certainly not my last from this pattern. The only real question is whether or not my next Casey skirt will have these fancy hidden zipper pockets or not. I haven't decided yet. . . thoughts?