Posts Tagged: sewing

Black + White Checkers Pencil Skirt

I have never worked in an office setting before. Ice cream server, historical tour guide, waitress, and wine sales associate, yes. Something where I needed a pencil skirt? Not really. But it wasn’t so much that I never had the right setting for the skirt as that I didn’t have a pencil skirt that fit me, (if you are just joining us, I am as pear-shaped as pear-shaped comes!) and if I am not comfortable, I will not wear something. And I don’t mean pajama comfortable, but style/fit comfortable. I bet you knew that though. ūüôā

For years I would dismiss pencil skirts. Even when I first opened the shop I pined after fabric that would have made the perfect skirt and just decided that it was never meant to be. Then, one of my friends/staff introduced me to this pattern. It is from Delia Creates and is called the Pleated Pencil Skirt. She swore up and down that it would fit me, and I finally caved. We ordered a few barkcloths from Gertrude Made, (they are here in the shop!) and I knew that if this was such a magical pattern, I might be able to actually use that gorgeous fabric! The thought was enough to push me over the edge.

If you have been in the shop, or heard me in class, you know I don’t believe in wearable muslins. I believe in muslins made out of muslin. That way I only look at the fit and don’t get caught up with finishing and what-not. I don’t believe in wearable muslins. Except for this one. Hear me out:¬† this skirt consists of a few pieces‚ÄĒfront and back, lining and waistband. I knew that if I made a regular muslin, I would walk around for about one hot minute and deem it either amazing or terrible. I knew I needed a more in-depth analysis of this pattern and I wasn’t about to walk around in a muslin pencil skirt in public. A girl has to have priorities!

So I had to figure out which fabric was going to be my wearable muslin, which was really fun. I thought that the Cotton + Steel Checkers would make a pretty cute skirt. I think I was right. That was the easy part.

All Photos by Ashley Shea Photography

Actually, it wasn’t difficult to sew at all. The one thing I would change on my third attempt (yes, I have made two so far!) is the pleat. Right now it is all one piece for the back and the pleat is just a fold all the way down the fabric. I traced a size four for the waist and graded out to a 6 at the hips. I also took just a small wedge out of where the skirt and waistband meet to do an on-the-fly sway back adjustment. That was it. The rest was straight from the pattern. And guys, it fit. IT FIT! Like it actually fit my hips and butt! It was astonishing. After wearing it around all day, I was a convert. Actually, as I type out this post I am currently wearing this EXACT outfit! So, it wasn’t just a one-time skirt which, sadly, sometimes happens. This is for real.

So now I want to know–do you wear pencil skirts?¬† If you do, what is your go-to pattern?¬† Your favorite pencil skirt fabric?


Frances Dress in Wonderland Rayon

I think I was on a posting roll for awhile, and then WHAM! Since I last posted we had Heather from Closet Case Patterns here at the shop, and I also went on a ten-day (10!!) vacation to Athens and Rome. Side note: in case you are curious if fabric store owners still purchase fabric when they are on vacation, the answer is a big fat yes. Hopefully I will get to sew some of the new stash before the end of the year, so hold tight on that front!

Before I got crazy busy, I was able to whip this little number up. This is the Frances Dress, by Green Bee Patterns. Green Bee is co-owned by Alexia Abegg, who is also one of the main designers for Cotton + Steel. ¬†I will be perfectly honest, this dress is a full-on copy of the one I saw Devon Iott, a.k.a. Miss Make, wear at Quilt Market last fall. She didn’t do the elastic and had a straight hem, so I guess it isn’t a complete copy, but she is absolutely responsible for this arriving in my closet the store as a sample.

This is one of those patterns that kind of sneaks up on you. The pattern cover shows a contrast button band and collar,¬†which is just not my jam, so I never really gave it a thought. If it’s your jam, you are way more of a risk taker than I am. It just kind of sat on our pattern shelf until I saw it in person at Quilt Market. Then I was completely obsessed and waited until the Cotton + Steel Wonderland fabric arrived.

Wonderland is the second collection from the Rifle Paper Co. and C+S collaboration. The hardest decision was which color way to use:¬† the pink/brown–a personal favorite combo, or the blue/black. I think either would have been amazing, but I settled on the pink. This also gave me a chance to use hot pink thread for construction and topstitching. I can’t say that with any of my other projects! ūüôā

As far as construction goes, this dress is pretty darn simple and the instructions were very well written! The sleeves are sewn in flat (yay for no gathering stitches!) and the¬†collar is a camp collar. If you aren’t familiar with that type of collar, it means there is no collar stand–the collar is sewn directly onto the dress. This takes some of the stress out of making a collar. Think of it as a collar with training wheels! It will get you ready to take the big plunge with a grown-up collar (with stand!). When I saw Devon’s, she didn’t add the elastic at the waist and it had more of a boxy style, which I adored, but after asking everyone at Sip + Stitch what I should do, I ended up adding the elastic.

One thing to note for anyone out there who is going to make this with elastic: I did notice that the elastic guide seemed kind of high (and double check that since I didn’t actually transfer the lines, I just remember thinking it as I traced the pattern), so I just made my own line. How? I just measuered up from the side seams and only ONE of the fronts. Can you figure out what I did wrong? I bet you can. Yes, please measure both fronts. Mine aren’t level, but you know what? Wabi Sabi, man.

I did not do any adjustments to this pattern either! I actually sewed it…gulp…without making a muslin. I know, I know! This is totally against all my rules, but I just wanted to sew something and figured that the loose/relaxed style of the dress would work in my favor. Which it did. Thankfully! The pattern is drafted well and everything lined up as it should.

All Photos by Ashley Shea Photography

Actually, I guess did make one small¬†change to the pattern. It called for buttons, but instead I used our fancy pearl snaps in hot pink. I do feel like a superhero when I take it off at night, which is awesome. I am sure one night I will rip one of those little suckers¬†off with my mighty strength! ūüėČ

If you want to make a shirt-dress but are intimidated, this pattern is a great place to start. It has easy construction, a nice relaxed fit, and is super cute! It is like its own super power!

Have you sewn this dress up? Are you a constrasty-trim type of sew-er? Do you have your own super power?? Fess up! ūüôā

Polka Dot Grainline Scout Tee

Have you ventured into the land of garment making yet? Are you scared? Think it will be too hard? Let me tell you, if you have made enough tote bags or pillowcases to last a lifetime (or are pretty comfortable with your machine), you are ready. Need a pattern to get your feet wet?

Here at the shop we use Grainline’s Scout Tee as one of our intro to garment making classes. The pattern instructions¬†are easy to understand, there are only two big hurdles in the¬†pattern, and it creates a great easy wardrobe¬†staple in a matter of hours. It is one of my personal favorites.

The fit of the Scout is on the¬†boxy side. There¬†are no darts in the¬†shirt for shaping. This is great for a nice drapey fabric, or soft cottons. This does not help if you choose to make your Scout out of something on the¬†stiffer side. Not to say that you can’t use a firm linen, just know going in that the shape of the shirt¬†will be more pronounced. It all depends on the¬†final look of the shirt that you want. If you poke around the internet, you should see examples of all sorts of fabrics.¬†I made this version with fabric from my stash. Since I am surrounded by fabric every day it is really hard to shop my stash, but this cotton and silk blend was a perfect match to the pattern.

I talked about the two big hurdles from the pattern, and I am sure you are curious what those are. The first is setting in sleeves. This is something that is super daunting to people. The trick is to go slow and be really aware of what you are sewing. I have seen many students sew half a beautiful sleeve, to find out that the other side has been sewn to the body. Double check you are only going through two layers.

The second hurdle is the¬†bias binding for the¬†neckline. If you follow the pattern it will be fiddly, annoying, and at some point (most likely in the trimming) you will want to quit, but if you¬†do what she suggests, you will end up with a beautiful binding.¬†¬†Trust me. Well… trust Jen from Grainline. She knows her necklines!

All Photos by Ashley Shea Photography

I have had plans to make a few more of this pattern. One is to make it out of¬†a¬†nice wool crepe. Since we are heading into warmer weather, that project has now been moved to the back of the line. I also have plans to redo my current favorite black silk one that sees some heavy rotation. I wear it at least once a week and¬†it is starting to look pretty sad.¬†Hopefully you will see the new one, but the old one, alas, will soon see the¬†bottom of the trash bin. ūüôĀ

Have you sewn the Scout? Does this post make you want to? What would be your ultimate fabric for this pattern? Do tell!

Liberty Sureau

I know it is just after Christmas, and the temperature here in New Hampshire is nowhere near being able to wear this now, but I am still posting this today. Let’s say it will bring us back to the warm, yet crisp days of fall before we settle in for the¬†dark winter. This is the Deer and Doe Sureau. It is a two piece¬†dress with a faux placket and the¬†options for sleeves or not. I choose not. It has been awhile since this pattern’s heyday, but I have to say, I¬†understand why it enjoyed such popularity when it was first released. Because of the faux placket and simple construction, once I had worked out my own fitting tweaks (and jumped over the¬†pocket hurdle), this dress was a pretty quick and satisfying make.

The skirt is gathered, which normally I am not a huge fan of, but figured I would give it a go. Looking at the photos, maybe I need to give gathered waists another chance! I am quite smitten with this dress on me. Who knew?!?!

Liberty Sureau by Pintuck & Purl

As far as fitting, I did some research before embarking on this pattern. I had seen around the interwebs that people had trouble with a gaping neckline. I whipped up a quick muslin of the¬†bodice after performing my usual sba (small bust adjustment‚ÄĒsince D&D is drafted for a C-cup) and sway back adjustment, and tried it on. After seeing the¬†results I took a 1/4″ wedge out of the front neckline tapering to nothing at the waist. It seemed to work well enough. I might have been able to take out more, but I didn’t want to go overboard.

The only other thing that I didn’t personally love was the¬†neckline facing. I am usually not on Team Facing, ever. I would prefer binding or lining my garments. Since this was the¬†first time making this I figured I would play by the rules. The facing extends around the¬†whole neckline, which is then topstitched down. Once I attached the¬†facing, I wanted a cleaner look so I handstitched it down. Even with the¬†handstitching, I find that it is still a bit fussy. Apparently I¬†will¬†never join Team Facing. I find them fiddly and annoying. Give me bias binding any day.

Liberty Sureau by Pintuck & Purl

The one other thing I did was add pockets. Actually, let me rephrase that. I added “a pocket”. This dress has a side zipper. I had every intention of cutting the dress so that I could move the zipper to the back, but absolutely forgot when cutting. I figured that I could just add them into the side seam. If you have been reading this blog, or know me ¬†at all, you know that most of my makes are right before a particular deadline. This dress was no different, trying to get it done for Maker’s Days in September. Since I was in a time crunch, I did not think through my construction of the zipper-sided pocket. Needless to say, when I sewed it up, I only had one functioning pocket. Yes. I had sewn the other one shut while attaching the invisible zipper. I decided then and there that I only needed one pocket. And that was that.

For this dress, since it was to be for a special occasion (Maker’s Days was our one year anniversary celebration!) I decided to go big for the fabric. What is the top of the line for me? Liberty of London. If you have never heard of this company, you should get to know it. It is an old-school London based store-front (it’s an actual department store) that has (and has¬†had for over 125 years) their own line of fabric. Their style is tight florals or designs that lean on a vintage-nouveau feel. Sometimes even a Where’s Waldo look, in a really cool and pretty way. Their Tana Lawn (which is what I used here) is¬†a beautifully soft cotton that is a dream to sew with and to wear. It is not an inexpensive fabric, but worth every penny.

Liberty Sureau by Pintuck & Purl

All Photos by Ashley Shea Photography

Should I make this again, and I really want to try the sleeved version, I have a few things that I would change. I would move the zipper to the back and add two pockets, and change the facing to bias binding or line the bodice instead. Anything to keep me away from those facings.

Deer and Doe Sureau

The pattern itself is well drafted and I do love the look of the dress. This is only the second Deer & Doe pattern that I have sewn, but I love the fit and style of my Belladone dress, so I am assuming that we are a pretty good match. I will tell you that the pattern directions are still a bit on the sparse side (similar to the Belladone), but there is enough there to get you to a new dress. I would suggested this to a beginner who has at least one other garment pattern under their belt. If you are looking to start your first dress in 2017, this would be a great pattern!

Have you sewn the Sureau? Are you on Team Facing or with me on Team Never-Facings? Do you have big sewing plans for 2017?? Come on, tell us!

National Sewing Month: Final Day!

q4-round3Wow‚ÄĒwhat a month! We are at our final installment of our National Sewing Month celebration. What a month it has been. Today we hear from our final group about what (if anything) still stops them dead in their¬†tracks or at least gets them a little sweaty. Let’s see what they have to say!

Is there any technique/fabric/type of project that still terrifies you?

Sarai,¬†Colette Patterns, CEO/Founder: I’ve never really had much fear around sewing,¬†so I’d say no.

Lisa,¬†Pattern¬†& Branch, Pintuck & Purl Social Media Coordinator: Hm.¬†I get intimidated by fitting.¬†I know I can learn it, but sometimes I have to give myself a little push to work on garments that I haven’t learned how to fit well yet.

Kali,¬†Kali Zirkle Quilts:¬†I haven’t yet dived into pieced curves in quilting¬†(and tend to avoid them!). I would love to start making lingerie, however the combination of fit and new fabrics has stopped me so far.

Sandi,¬†Crafty Planner:¬†I’m not really terrified by things anymore. There are things that “intimidate” me though. Things like button holes and bras give me hesitation. But I’m currently working on the Morgan Jeans pattern so I figure if I can make jeans, I can do anything… (Or at least that is what I keep telling myself!)

Peter Lappin,¬†Male Pattern Boldness:¬†Nothing terrifies me, but the thought of starting a big project, like, say, a men’s wool suit, causes me a little anxiety.¬†I worry that I may be biting off more than I can chew.¬†That said, how else are you going to improve if you don’t challenge yourself, right?

Karin,¬†Leigh Laurel Studios:¬†I can sew clothing, but I haven’t yet become confident with altering patterns to fit me. This is something I’d like to work on in coming months. Perhaps taking an in-person class will help me over this hurdle.

Christine Haynes, Christine Haynes Patterns: I think the only things that scare me are things that I don’t do often, like bound button holes or welt pockets. But I wouldn’t say anything terrifies me, rather something out of my comfort zone naturally makes me a bit uncomfortable. Never forget that it’s just sewing. In the grand scheme of life, it’s all going to be okay even if you totally mess something up!

Yes, Christine Haynes! It is just sewing, and eventually you will mess something up. It is almost inevitable. But, it is just sewing. ūüôā

Now we have our final bonus questions. Both of these ladies are local bloggers and their¬†creations are amazing. Kim has a plethora of hand-mades in her closet that are drool-worthy, and Karin’s quilts and hand appliqu√©¬†have me itching to try my hand at some similar projects. Take it away ladies!

What is your favorite thing you have ever sewn?

Kim,¬†CraftyNHMom:¬†My favorite thing I’ve ever sewn so far would probably be a tie between my favorite dress, a maxi Anna dress (By Hand London) and a giant beanbag¬†and cover for my littlest son, the Rollie Polie (pattern: Made By Dana). It’s taken 6 years of abuse¬†and he still loves it!

Karin,¬†Leigh Laurel Studios: Occasionally I sew clothing for my daughter‚ÄĒpajamas, a night gown, a skirt with hand embroidered trim, a pillowcase dress with a matching mini version for her American Girl doll. It’s the best feeling to see her proudly wearing them and saying, “My Mom made this!” Tucking both kids in at night under quilts I’ve lovingly designed and made for them…makes me smile every day.

So, let’s take a moment and take a deep breath. Now, exhale. That feels better, right? I feel like we have learned a lot this month. From what we should have in our physical toolbox to what we should have in our mental toolbox. We have heard people say¬†“just go for it” and that practice will eventually make almost-perfect. A big theme that we have heard this whole month is that this is a fun craft and no one is absolutely perfect. Learn from¬†your successes as much as you do from your not-quite-successes, but let’s remember that we do this because we enjoy it. Lots of people can go and buy a new dress or a machine-made quilt from Marshall’s, but we can¬†make our own¬†and probably¬†even do it better. ¬†I hope this series has jump started your enthusiasm¬†for your next project! We are all in this together!

I want to say a HUGE thank you to everyone who participated in this fun series. We loved every minute of it here in the shop and we hope you did too. If you missed our giveaway yesterday on Instagram or Facebook, you have until midnight EST tonight to enter to win! Good luck and happy sewing!