Wednesday, March 28, 2018

The Metallic Golden Overall Dress

"3 yards left of metallic gold stretch denim, what to do with it?"

This was the question I asked myself after I finished making my skinny jeans. Luckily it was one easily answered by my sister. 

"An overall dress!"

The blue corduroy overall dress I made for my sister back in December is probably her most worn garment at the moment. It gets worn, gets worn again, goes through the wash, and them gets worn again almost immediately. The 1940's denim overalls I made for my sister a couple months ago get plenty of wear as well (just not as much as the dress). Thus, when my sister suggested I use the remaining gold denim to make her another overall dress, I quickly agreed.

She suggested that this overall dress be made from the same pattern as her 1940's denim overalls, Simplicity 8447. That was easy enough! 

I used the pattern to cut out the bodice, then just cut out two large rectangles for the skirt. I added pockets to the front skirt panel (my sister requested "jeans pockets", not patch pockets), and that was that. My sister had her metallic gold overall dress!

The dress was actually ridiculously easy to sew, so I decided to add some fun top stitching and hardwear to make it look more "overall-ish" (my word). 

Using bronze thread, I embellished the upper edge of the bodice, the patch pocket, and the hem, with some geometric decorative stitches I found on my sewing machine. I did regular topstitching along the skirt pockets, waistband, and shoulder straps.

Rather than regular buttons, for this dress I used hammer-on jeans buttons for the shoulder straps and my sister picked out some copper-colored snaps, that resemble the end of a shotgun shell, for the side placket.

The resulting dress is bright, shiny, and twirly, with just the right amount of overall-ness! It was the perfect project for the leftover metallic stretch denim!

Now, will this overall dress receive as much wear as the first one has?

I sure hope so!

Thursday, March 22, 2018

My Mom's Accidental New Dress

Sometimes you find the perfect pattern, pick out the perfect fabric, make the dress, put it on. . . . and you're less than impressed with how the final garment looks on you. Darn. What a disappointment. The dress is now destined to hang in the closet, unworn and unloved, for years. Unless. . .

Your mom comments on how much she likes the dress and asks if she can try it on. You agree, hoping that the dress made out of the perfect pattern and the perfect fabric will work for somebody! So, your mom tries the dress on, and it looks absolutely fabulous on her!! The perfect pattern, made out of the perfect fabric will actually be worn and appreciated!

The pattern is Butterick B6374, a reprint of a 1940's pattern. The asymmetry of the design caught my eye, and the pattern came home with me from a pattern sale.

Once the pattern had been acquired, I was on the lookout for the right fabric for the design. It needed to be a relatively plain fabric for the design details of the dress to shine through. Luckily, I happened across the perfect fabric on the remnant table at a Mennonite fabric store -  a blue sateen with a darker blue woven in stripe. The fabric is beautiful on its own and showcases the asymmetry of the dress perfectly!

The front of the dress features a row of buttons in a curved line. This is my favorite detail of the dress. Now the pattern was designed for these buttons to just be decorative - the real dress fastening was to be a side seam zipper. Of course, I wasn't satisfied with that! So I turned the center front curved seam into a real button placket and omitted the zipper entirely. Functional buttons for the win!

So, the perfect pattern, the perfect fabric, and functional buttons, What's not to love about this dress? Nothing, nothing at all, which is why I am so pleased that it looks so fabulous on my mom and she loves it!

My mom has a new dress to wear, and I have the satisfaction of seeing something I made get worn on a regular basis. I'd say this story had an excellent outcome, wouldn't you?

Monday, March 19, 2018

The Work and Play Capsule Wardrobe

6 garments. They all make fantastic individual additions to my wardrobe, but they can also be worn together in multiple combinations. This is the mini capsule wardrobe I made for the pattern review contest. 1 cardigan, 2 pairs of pants, and 3 shirts.

When I began to plan my capsule wardrobe I knew immediately that I wanted to make it as versatile as possible. I wanted a wardrobe that would look "at home" in both "work" and "play" situations. I wanted my outfits to transition from a more formal look to a fun look with the exchange of just one garment.

For maximum versatility, I made the first item of my capsule wardrobe, the cardigan, reversible. After I made the cardigan, the next step of assembling this mix and match collection was to make two pairs of pants. In keeping with my goal of having a variety of looks with just the one set of clothing, I made these pants to be opposite of eachother. The first pair are loose, flowy, and made of dark gray wool. The second pair are skinny jeans made of bright metallic gold stretch denim.

When it came to the shirts, I knew right away that I wanted to make all three in different styles. One would be a button up blouse, one would be a tank top, and one would be a basic T shirt. These three things would look great with both pair of pants, and my cardigan.

After I picked out my fabrics and patterns for the shirts, I decided to start with most boring one - a plain, black, T-shirt. A wonderful wardrobe staple that I clearly needed. Easy to sew, but not very exciting.

To make the shirt I used my basic dolman T-shirt pattern and a remnant of  black Ponte de Roma from my stash. The stability of the ponte lent an edge of formality to this otherwise casual pattern, making the the T-shirt look just right with my wide-legged pants. Unfortunately, I didn't have quite as much of the fabric as I thought I had, so I had to piece together the back of the shirt. I used the ponte for a yoke, and some plain black jersey for the rest. I'm not complaining though, because I love the visual interest that the back now has. A happy accident indeed, as this top now can't be called boring at all!  

As another design feature, I also added sleeve ruffles. They add just the right amount of fun to this "boring" black T-shirt!

My next shirt, a tank top, didn't need any design changes at all to make it interesting. The fabric took care of that. 

I acquired this purple, floral, patchwork, soft, drapey, mystery fabric in Malaysia. Once it arrived home with me, I immediately saw that it was just the fabric to turn into the Burda 6969 tank top. This pattern had been in my stash for quite a while now, waiting for just the right fabric!

The capsule wardrobe contest was just the push I needed to actually make the tank-top. I put off making it until now because it's been much too cold outside to think of wearing anything sleeveless! Thankfully, my reversible cardigan solved that delema for me, as this flowy purple tank top looks good layered under the cardigan, or alone with either of my newly made pairs of pants.

For my final shirt, a button up blouse, I decided to match my tank top in color and stick with purple for two reasons, a) it's one of my very favorite colors, and b) having two purple shirts created a very nice cohesive look for my capsule wardrobe. The color however, is where the resemblance between the two shirts ends. Where the tank is loose and flowey, the blouse is fitted. Where the tank has a wide, open, neckline, the blouse has a modest V.  And where the print of the tanktop fabric is a little bit of everything, the blouse blouse fabric is a uniform plaid. These differences though, do not mean the blouse is any less fun! Oh no, not at all!

When I decided to make a button up blouse as my third shirt, I immediately knew just what fabric I would use - this purple plaid I acquired at the mennonite fabric store a couple months ago. The only challenge was deciding what pattern I would use. After rifling through my pattern stash multiple times I finally decided on Simplicity 1460.

The scalloped neckline, fitted bodice, and peplum made this pattern catch my eye, and I'm so glad it did! This blouse features double diagonal bust darts, a dart formation I'm never before used, and they give the perfect fit. This pattern will definitely be used again!

Of the three shirts, this blouse is definitely my favorite. The other two shirts look best tucked into the wide-legged pants and worn loose with the skinny jeans, but thanks to the peplum, this shirt looks good worn either way with either pair of pants. Truly a versatile garment!

So there you have it, 6 items that can be worn in 12 combinations and look fabulous in all of them! I think I nailed this challenge! 

You can see my official Pattern Review entry on my capsule wardrobe, with links to my individual project reviews, here.

Tuesday, March 13, 2018

Why Not Metallic Gold Skinny Jeans?

I *think* I once said I had no interest in ever sewing myself jeans. Well, I was wrong.

This weekend I sewed myself a pair of jeans, real jeans, with a zipper fly, belt loops, rivets, a jeans button (the kind you hammer on, not sew on), lots of top stitching, and all.

Yes, I may have gone crazy. As you know, I made myself a pair of wide-legged wool pants as part of the Pattern Review capsule wardrobe contest. So, for my second pair of 'bottoms', I decided to make something that was the opposite of those.

Since the wool pants are, well, wide-legged, and rather conservative in color, I decided I would make myself a pair of narrow-legged pants in a flashier color. Skinny jeans. In metallic gold denim. 
Once that was decided, I went to Joann's the next time a pattern sale rolled around, and flipped through the Simplicity pattern book looking for a skinny jeans pattern. I found Simplicity 8516, and brought it home with me.

Originally I planned to make these jeans out of a purple stretch sateen I have in my stash, but then I did a bit of online fabric shopping (oops. . .), and this metallic stretch denim from found its way to my front door to be turned into the skinny jeans instead. (It's a dangerous thing, the ability to have new fabric delivered right to your door.) Once that metallic denim got pre-washed, skinny jean making could commence.

The fun part of jean making is the pockets. I was excited to design and topstitch the back pockets, so I did that first thing to keep up my enthusiasm for the project. I used two colors of topstitching thread, ivory and bronze, and free-handed a design onto one pocket. I then mirrored the design on the other pocket.
I couldn't leave the front pockets out of the fun, so I decided to line them with this bright purple floral/patchwork fabric I brought home from Malaysia. It adds a pop of color to the inside of the jeans, making them lots of fun to wear. (As if metallic gold isn't fun enough on its own.)

The scariest part of making jeans, for me atleast, was the zipper fly. I just couldn't wrap my head around how one would construct such a thing. Luckily, the pattern instructions were incredibly clear and helpful, and in no time at all, the fly was done. And it turned out better than I expected!

The thing that took the longest on these jeans was All. The. Top. Stitching. The top stitching itself wasn't too bad, but rather it was re-threading the machine every time I needed to top stitch that took so much time.

As I mentioned above, I used two colors of top stitching thread for this project. Ivory and bronze both appear on almost every single top stitched seam. That's A LOT of re-threading.

Once I was done with all that top stitching, I decided that these jeans had better actually look 100% like jeans. So, I added rivets to the pockets and hammered a button onto the waistband. There!  
Hardware and everything, I had made a pair of jeans!

I pulled them on, buttoned them up, and felt like jumping for joy. They fit! They were comfortable! And they actually looked and felt like jeans! I'd done it!

These may not be the most perfectly fitted pair of jeans in existence, but that's ok. I made them, I'm proud of them, I will wear them, and they are an excellent start to my jeans making journey.

Because, now that I know I can make jeans, one of these days, I'll probably make another pair. Why not? 

Thursday, March 8, 2018

Instructions Are A Good Thing - The Hickory and Spice Henley

One of the benefits of pattern testing? It forces me to actually read pattern instructions - something I rarely bother to do. Actually reading the pattern instructions makes fun design features, such as partial button plackets, much less intimidating. Imagine that, sometimes (ahmm, most of the time/almost all the time), things actually go better if I follow the instructions, rather than just winging it (my prefered method of sewing and doing life).

The look I get for my opinion on instructions.

The Hickory and Spice Henley, which I had the privilege of testing* back in December, reminded me of this fact. The testing call for this shirt came across Facebook, and, upon realizing that this kids' shirt pattern actually went all the way up to size 14 (my sister's size!), I quickly applied to test it!  

Once I'd applied to test the pattern, and my excitement of actually finding a pattern in my sister's size has slightly died down, I took a second look at the pattern line drawings. There were several fun features that made this pattern very appealing to me, the pieced shoulders perfect for color blocking (I actually copied this feature on my hoodie a month later), 3 different sleeve length options, the ruffle hem option, and a partial button placket. Oh dear, that button placket, it kind of scared me.

Last time I sewed a partial button placket it was on a nightgown for myself, which I didn't bother to read the instructions for. I remember it being a very frustrating experience. Eventually I figured something out (it's been a few years, so I don't remember what I did), and that partial button placket on that night gown turned out decent. Yet, clearly the struggles I had to get to that point of "decent", were enough to scar me when it came to partial button plackets. Thus, I slightly freaked out about the placket on the Hickory and Spice Henley. Would I be in for a repeat of my former frustrations?

Well, I need not have worried, as this was a pattern I was testing, and my job was to sew up the pattern and give the designer (Orange Daisy Patterns in this case) feedback on both the pattern and the instructions, I actually read the instructions this time. 

And guess what? They walked me right through how to make that cute partial placket. It was actually quite simple once I read how to do it! So simple in fact, that I wound up making three different shirts during testing, because this shirt was just so cute! Clearly my sister needed more than one in her wardrobe!

 The first shirt I made out of a thrifted green floral maxi skirt and some tan rayon jersey I found at Walmart. I sewed up the half-length sleeve option with the ruffle hem, and I think this is my favorite of the three shirts I made.  I love the green floral fabric! I wish I could buy it by the yard!

Fit photo taken during testing, first thing in the morning, thus the "You dragged me out of bed for this??" facial expression.
The second shirt I made out of a ridiculously stretchy green ribbed knit, and I used my favorite nearly sheer printed mystery knit (used for the sleeves on two shirts for myself here) for the shoulders, button placket, hem ruffle, and the sleeve ruffles I decided to add. (the sleeve ruffles are not part of the pattern, but they are very easy to make and add yourself!)

I decided to try out the long sleeve option for the third shirt, and used a ridiculously soft french terry, found at Walmart, to do so. For the placket, shoulders, and ruffle, I used scraps of a gray and teal striped knit (left over from this shirt). (And yes, this is the exact same fabric combo I used for my hoodie)

This pattern can also be made for boys, just make the plain hem, rather than the ruffle hem option, and overlap the placket in the opposite direction, left over right, rather than right over left. The instructions, if you bother to read them, actually include specific directions on how to make the placket overlap the correct way for each gender. (Although, now that I look at these pictures, I may have overlapped the placket the wrong way on my sister's shirts. Oops.)

Instructions. They're useful like that.

If you're interested in checking out the instructions and making your own Hickory and Spice Henley for any kids between the sizes of 2 and 14, you can buy the pattern here or here.

*I received this pattern for free as a tester, but all thoughts here are my own.