They Call Me The Duchess: Style Arc Gorgeous Gore Skirt and Phillipa Peplum

I kind of went crazy when StyleArc put together several pieces from the 2014 Royal Tour to Australia. After two years, I finally sewed up the Phillipa Top, Gorgeous Gore skirt, and Kate dress from their Etsy shop as copy shop patterns (death to taping!). I would have bought the Catherine too, but it wasn’t available as a PDF.

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I SWOONED over this pink wool jersey Alexander McQueen ensemble.

The Royals arrive into Adelaide

The royals, Kate and William, arrive into Adelaide without their son GeorgePictured: Prince William and Kate Ref: SPL743025 230414
Picture by: Splash News

 

Having the same lithe figure as the Duchess (HA!), I decided to whip up my own version using a polyester ponte knit I bought last year from Metro Textiles in the Garment District.

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I wore it this weekend to Jordan’s grandfather’s 80th birthday dinner. And, that’s the only photo I have of it on me. It’s literally 100 degrees here (they are calling it a ‘Heat Dome’) and you’ll be shocked to know poly scuba does not breath. We snapped this on my cell phone for IG in the hotel and bolted for the restaurant.

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Any who, when I first sent the photo of this outfit on my dress form, my friend Liz said “I have to see it on. It looks potentially matronly”. I can see why. First, my dress form approximates but doesn’t mimic my figure. Second, I think we can all agree that perhaps Catherine dresses a little…. mumsy? That said, I’m actually pretty pleased with the silouhette overall on me.

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The Gorgeous Gore skirt is a really terrific beginner pattern and intro to StyleArc.  It’s just two pattern pieces and a really simple sew.  I purchased the 12-14-16 size range. For the skirt, I cut the 16 and ended up taking it in at the waist about three sizes and one size through the thighs. The instructions might be a bit  confusing if you read too fast. But, I sewed each panel with 1/4 inch seams and the side seams with 3/8 inch allowance. I ended up shortening the skirt by two inches and using 1/2 inch wide elastic at the waist rather that 1/4 inch.

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For the Philipa top, I found one online review and read a smattering of comments on other blogs about it being too low cut. Which, I did not find to be the case at all. Maybe because I’m a little busty it doesn’t come down as far as for others? I did also make an FBA and multiple muslins of the top. Why? Because it’s a new-to-me company and my fabric is precious.

Muslin 1:  I  started with a 16, raised the neckline by 1 inch and made a 1.25 inch FBA adding a side dart and shortening the front dart by 1 inch.

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Muslin 2: Dropped down to a 12, put the neckline back where it was and made a 1.25 inch FBA

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Muslin 3: Kept the size 12 (which is still a wee bit big) and reduced my FBA to 1 inch.  I also lowered the side darts 1/2 inch.  FYI, darts can end 1 to 2.5 inches from the apex. Mine still don’t. They are right up on me.

I also changed the 3/4 sleeves to a capped sleeve. Because, poly scuba in the dead of summer.

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And, here’s the back view. I can get the top on fine without unzipping. But, with a zip, it’s easier to get on without messing up my hair and makeup. So, I’m glad I kept it.

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StyleArc is AWESOME and I’m sorry it took me this long to discover them. I love, love, love this outfit. And, maybe someday I’ll actually get more photos of me in it! I hope to make this up in the fall in long sleeves using some of my stashed wool jersey — maybe a nice camel. Wouldn’t that look awesome with tall boots?

 

Cashmerette Patterns Concord Tee – Review

Hot time, summer in the city and all that, eh? In April, we went to Santa Fe for my 40th birthday. The night of my birthday dinner I did a wine pairing at a fancy Santa Fe restaurant. While I like my drink, I’m not a big drinker, but at the price point for the meal, I drank every last overpriced drop.

A few days after said dinner, the Concord Tee from Cashmerette patterns showed up in my mail box. Initially startled, I foggily remembered ordering it the night of said matched wine impaired dinner.  Apparently, you can drunk purchase.

I was drawn to the Cashmerette line for the lack of an FBA. I mean, I can make them. But, I don’t like it. For my muslin, I cut an E/F cup (I’m a 34G bra) with a 12 bodice, grading out to a 16 at the hip ( For reference, these days I’m sewing a 40 in Burda on top w. a 1.5 – 2 inch inch or so FBA and a 40 grading to a 46 on the bottom.) . My bust measurement is spot on for Cashmerette’s 12 E/F. But, my waist and hip fell between the 14 and 16.

While the bust generally fit, I found overall the shirt was bigger/ had more ease that I wanted. In addition, the front neckline was really wide on me so that my bra would show and a little low – just a sliver of cleavage. I also noticed that there’s a bit of extra fabric width between my bust and shoulders. Plus, the shoulders are a hair too wide for me as drafted.

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For my additional versions, I raised the neckline 1/4 inch and sewed 12; grading to just a 14 at the high hip.  Much better (didn’t make the shoulder adjustment yet).

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But, here in  these sitting photo, you can see what I mean about there being a little more length or width than I need between the upper bust and the shoulder.

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And, I can’t bend over in the v-neck version without exposing myself.

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I’ve made about four of these shirts in the scoop and v-neck, medium length and short sleeved. I’ve since altered the pattern for what I think will work best of taking out that 2 cm of gaposis but don’t have more fabric to test it in. I’ve also narrowed the shoulder 1/4 inch. Next time I get my hands on some cotton knits, I’ll make up a few more too.

Oh, I initially sewed the muslin as a tunic. Which I didn’t care for on me. But, I didn’t save a photo because I’m an idiot.

As for the instructions, I kind of just glanced at them. The pattern provides a lot of handholding which an intermediate to advanced seamstress might find unnecessary. The pattern has V-neck instructions I’ve not seen before. I used my TNT v-neck method from the Sewing Athleticwear from the Singer Sewing Reference Library.

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For my gray scoop neck version, I bound the neckline also using instruction from the Sewing Athleticwear volume of the Singer Sewing Reference Library. I did them this way because cotton knits tend to stretch. And this is a way of having a nice, snug  yet still stretchy neckline. It’s a really pretty and very neat finish that I like doing.

Now, the $18 elephant in my room. Is this pattern worth it? For ease of use, absolutely. It’s nice to have a dartless tee that actually fits. And, while I need a few small alterations for it to be my ideal, that’s nothing compared to starting from scratch with a B or C cup pattern. Plus, it’s great when a pattern fits you out the envelope. But, in my view they really aren’t supposed to if you want the best fit possible:-)

Button Front Skirt: Burdastyle 9-2009 #125

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About 20+ years ago I had a thrifted a-line skirt made from denim with buttons up the front. I’m not sure whatever happened to that skirt. But, I have noticed these skirts are all the rage lately and it seemed like a perfect summer skirt.  Enter BurdaStyle 9-2009 #125

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A really lovely basic skirt. It’s made up a few ways in the magazine including leather with the front closures or with a side zip in three different lengths.

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For my first version (because of course I made two) I used some leftover orange and cream stretch twill from the creamscicle dress I made six years ago.

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I sewed a 40 at the waist grading out to a 46 at the lower thigh. I also made swayback adjustment but totally forgot to add the inch I took out from the waist back to the skirt hem. So, it rides up a little in the back:-/ Also, my fabric is stretch so it flares a bit more than the pattern draft calls for.

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When sewing a skirt without a waistband, it’s inherently going to stretch as it’s all bias. So, you’ll want to use twill tape in the waist seam allowances or be sure to double stitch the waistline. Since I was making mine from denim and not leather, I also interfaced the front fold extension.

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The insides are all serged. It would be very pretty if I’d bound the insides (or useful if I’d taken a photo of the insides…)  But, I didn’t. I paired this skirt with my summer sweater made from orange cotton. It’s slouchy and comfy with this more casual skirt.

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Blue Denim:

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I wanted a skirt reminiscent of a traditional denim skirt and mimicked my high school skirt.  And, I wanted it to be casual enough to wear with some of the graphic tees I have but never wear (because I don’t have anything to wear them with).  My only additional alteration with this version was to add an extra inch in length to the skirt overall, but of course not to the center back to make up for my swayback adjustment. Sigh.

Jordan thinks these skirts are shorter than I normally wear. He claims I like to cover my knees. But, I wanted something short for summer that subbed in for actual shorts:-)

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For this version, I used really cute donut jeans buttons. I used dark grey topstitching thread and it pulls the nickel of the buttons in nicely. All but two of these buttons popped off while wearing or putting on the first few times.

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Overall, a nice little summer skirt pattern. And, for once I am on trend!  Plus, you know I love anything even vaguely nautical:-)

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This is an embarrassingly bad salute. I am clearly out of practice.

 

 

African / Dutch Wax Fabric Exhibit

Just popping in to give a plug for a wonderful textile exhibit I saw last week on African Wax Prints at the Philadelphia Museum of Art  with Carolyn, Andrea and Claudine.

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Philly is an easy two-hour drive from Baltimore and has one of the few remaining costume collections on the east coast. While no Met / Brooklyn Museum of Art collection, it was a phenomenal exhibition and worth a visit.

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The Vlisco: Fashion on a Global Stage exhibit is part of their season long Creative Africa focus.

Smartly curated, the Vlisco exhibit shows clothing made up in the wax prints. But, also highlights the history and meaning of various prints along the walls. In addition, they give a history of the company, how the wax trade worked and how the fabrics are made.

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Briefly, the fabrics we know today as ‘wax prints’ were originally made in Holland for the Indonesian market. The Indonesian batik process was labor intensive. So, the Dutch tried to speed up the process with mechanics.

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While the Indonesians rejected the prints, the global slave/commodities trade  brought it to the African continent and they fell for the bright and bold colors.

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I, as a confirmed magpie, will wear ALL the wax prints. Years ago I went to Ghana and must have brought home 60 – 100 yards of wax prints. I didn’t buy any fabric when I went to Bali. Turns out I was totally underwhelmed by Indonesian batiks. But, I highly recommend a textile tour if you do go to Bali. It’s worth it to see the process.

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Yet, when I look at Dutch wax prints, it’s easy to see the roots of the Indonesian batik process.

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You know, I generally don’t like saying ‘African’ because Africa is a continent made up of 54 different countries. I imagine it’s correct to say Dutch Wax Prints as the most famous line is Vlisco and they are made in the Netherlands. But, there are companies in Africa who also make prints like GTP.  I try to say Ankara which is how a lot of the West Africans I know refer to it and it shows up on Instagram.

Let’s close with some of my favorites:

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Shirtdress. This is going to happen this year. I promise.

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Cape Dress. It’s so gorgeous I weep.

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I just want to wear it and dramatically walk out of a room.

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Overall, a totally satisfying exhibit.

 

More photos from the exhibit with a few from my textile tour in Bali.

Some further reading if you’re interested:

Africa’s Fabric is Dutch, the New York Times

When West Africans Dress, the Fabric is the Message , The New York Times


 

Finally, I’m slowly working on altering some of my mom’s clothes for my wardrobe. This dress was made for my mom by my Aunt Judy when she visited Ghana.

 

I’d like to thank the Ghanian women who made my mom’s two piece dress for their 4 inch seam allowances. I was able to let the top out and wear it to the exhibition. I’m about six sizes larger than my mom.

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The bust is woefully unflattering (smooshes me into a pear vs an hourglass). But, it was my mom’s so I kind of don’t care:-) You can read more about the dress here from when I first altered it to fit her.

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All The Things!

You guys. I am having, like the BEST summer ever. No, seriously. I’ve just been floating from happiness the last few days. Here’s what’s going on:

Designer Veronik Avery  was road tripping to TNNA in DC last week. Through quick Instagram begging I asked if she could stop in Baltimore on her way down and we met for crabs. Veronik is like the *realest*.  She knows what she’s talking about when it comes to knitting and sewing and design. I just want to sit in her halo and get all the knowledge I can.

Then, she asked if I’d like to come by TNNA Trade Show (The National NeedleArts Association) on Sunday and of course I said YES! TNNA was a new-to-me organization. It’s for the trade only. Vendors show their new lines for knitting, crochet and needlepoint. So, like two of the three things I’m currently obsessed with.

Went to TNNA w. @veronik_avery and managed to buy nothing. And, it was really really hard 😇 #tnnashow #tnna

A photo posted by Renee (@missceliespants) on

I didn’t feel comfortable taking photos on the floor so not many pictures from there.  Talk about a great guide though! Veronik was like a walking Rolodex and yarn encyclopedia and HI-larius. It was AWESOME.  I did find a crapload of stuff I want to try:

  1. This Sights and Scenes of London needlepoint canvas from Kirk and Bradley. Yes, I’m still working on my first needlepoint. One year in. Another two to go.
  2. This crab / maryland pillow to needlepoint
  3. These Country Bird inspired yarns from WYS
  4. This Caramel blanket cardigan (I saw it knit up vs just admiring on Ravelry)

Thank you Veronik (link to her IG) for introducing me to a whole new world and letting me crash your party!


Monday I took the bus to New York to do two things I’ve been DYING to do.

First, meet Jasika Nicole from TryCuriousblog.com and hang out with she and Marcy of Oonaballona fame. You’ll see I also made the right decision to keep my hair pinned back as it  CANNOT COMPETE in volume.

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I’ve never laughed so hard and had such intense yet lighthearted conversations in my life. I’d been looking forward to this for a whole month and it was EVERYTHING I WANTED IT TO BE.

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Second, I saw Manus x Machina at the Met.  If you can go, run. Don’t walk.

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Last year I skipped China Throught the Looking Glass because I wasn’t interested in Asian inspired design. But, the Costume Institute is more thoughtful than my literal interpretation.  Originally, I thought Manus x Machina would be like tech clothes or something. But, it wasn’t. Because, the curators are smarter than me.  Lesson learned: Don’t Skip the Exhibit.

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The show looks at different methods of creating garments using machine vs man and it’s stunning. Think lace work, pleating, manipulation and construction of haute couture. I want to take a twin size cot to the Met and sleep there so I can wake up every day to the incredible talents of designers.

And, I found the star fabric I needed to sew my Wonder Woman inspired swimsuit. Yeah. That’s right. Wonder. Woman.

So, a really really incredibly fun few days with friends.


I  also managed to finish knitting a summer sweater drafted in Garment Designer and overall I’m happy with it. I have a lot of mistakes and my seaming isn’t great. But, I KNIT something for ME.  I also only have cell phone snaps. And, I don’t know when I’ll get to do a proper photo shoot. Maybe when I sew the coordinating skirt?

Despite looking like an actual orange, happy with my first me-made sweater! 😁🍊

A photo posted by Renee (@missceliespants) on

It’s totally a ’round’ look on me. But,  I’m happy with it! I wish it had a little less ease and slightly shorter. But, I’m still learning my style with knitting and using the software. Ravelry notes here.


 

Oh, and after two years I changed my Instagram and Twitter to misscelisepants instead of fussbudgit.  I think I had Twitter before I had a blog so I picked an old nickname. Then when I had IG I thought it wouldn’t last (HA!) and just used the same twitter name to be consistent. It seems like Instagram is sticking despite my initial predictions. So, now I have the same name on my  blog, twitter and IG. Real big and exciting news, huh?

A Little On Garment Designer

I mentioned a few posts back that I’d purchased a design program called Garment Designer by Cochinelle. My main motivation to get this was for machine knitting projects. But, it also does draft for sewing patterns.

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My friend Liz came over and we spent a couple of hours getting my measurements, plugging them into Garment Designer and spitting out a pattern. The patterns can be printed on any size paper from taped to plotter size.  I essentially used the options for the most fitted knit I could sew — allowing me to check out the overall fit of my sloper.

Covered my Celine @dritz_sewing dressform with my sloper muslin 😍

A photo posted by Renee (@missceliespants) on

I have to say I’m pretty happy! No darts were harmed in the making of this sloper.  I think I could use a bit more room in the bust, but not enough for me to care or (IMHO) for it to matter when it comes to knitwear for myself.

Once you have your design, you can then punch in your gauge and the program spits out basic directions for your increases and decreases (along with the row count, needle position and estimates of yarn needed). If you’d like, they also give shaping instructions for making your bands too. Or, if you’re hand knitting, it will tell you how many inches along you should be and the number of live stitches.

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I don’t know how much I’ll use it for sewing as I have plenty of patterns to make. But, never say never!

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Hopefully Rose Trellis Shawl for a knit a long on Ravelry

So, that’s an overview of the program. Hopefully next time, I’ll tell you if it actually works!

 

 

 

Simplicity 8013: Uncle

I’ve been lying to you. Turns out: I can’t sew. This weekend is Maryland Sheep and Wool. I think I’ll just buy some yarn, make a bed of wool and cry myself to sleep at night.

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I’m all done with this one.  The fabric, pattern and muslins are all in the trash bin.  I can say the tips for the bias stretch really worked! But, the dress is not working for me. I’m not getting the coverage I need. And, I’ve lost interest in figuring it out.

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On to the next project.

 

Simplicity 8013: Bodice Muslin #586

I got a lot of terrific advice after posting the disaster that was Simplicity 8013. For this version, I’ve made a few changes. Below is still muslin fabric. But, I used something with more slip to work out my changes.

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    1. Several of you suggested my FBA was too large. Take pleasure in knowing you were right! Originally, I sewed a 12 with a 2.5 inch FBA. I went back to the drawing board and selected the 16 based on on my upper chest measurement (39 inches) and made a 1 inch FBA. This gave me a much smaller and more manageable side dart.
    2. Ann of Gorgeous Fabrics referred me to an old Threads article  (starts on page 70) that talked about bias necklines. I used some of the directions from this piece. Primarily, I gave the neckline a 1 inch seam allowance, used rayon tape along the seam and eased the fabric to stabilize the neckline.

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I based the length of the tape on the pattern piece. Then, eased it to the fabric.

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I probably eased almost an inch extra to the rayon tape. That bias grew just by looking at it.

A GREAT reference for fitting a wraps dresses is Beth of Sunny Gal Studio‘s post on Craftsy. I raised the neckline 3/4 inch because I could still see the top of my bra in the muslin and this looks pretty low cut in the line drawing.

Finally, I pinched out 1/2 inch from the length of the neckline as it was still not snugging up.

I’m thinking about omitting the bodice lining. It’s a different pattern piece for the bodice lining and I’m pretty happy with the way to top fits now. And, my fabric is polyester and is going to be hot as all get out as is.

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Hopefully next time you see me, it will be with a completed dress!

Also, I lost my entire Sunday to Beyonce’s Lemonade. Seriously. Freedom is hands down my song this year.

Feeling Myself: Leopard Print Wrap Dress

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When I found this leopard print poly knit on a shopping trip with friends in August 2015, I knew it HAD to become a DVF style wrap dress using my previously made Burdastyle from October 2011.

That time we bought all the fabric #latergram @rollingincloth @cubanitacose @karen.heenan

A photo posted by Renee (@missceliespants) on

It’s funny I was drawn to this, because I tend to avoid animal prints (I read a study in college about how black models were more likely to be photographed in animal prints and said ‘F that noise’). That said, I also LOVE this leopard print dress I made in 2012.

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Give me *all* the 70s

 

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I had this Burdastyle pattern cut out by the end of September 2015. But, life happens, I became obsessed with machine knitting and I lost my sewing mojo when a very expensive fabric order from Mood was stolen off my front porch (Yeah. Seriously.) We’ve had a string of package thefts and this one made off with $200 in dove gray wool coating from Mood. And, I’m sure he just threw it away.

Video Evidence:

Luckily, because it was purchased on my Visa, they sent me a check for the fabric (which I didn’t bother replacing). And, now everything gets delivered to my office:-/

After some time, I finally picked this dress back up to get it off my sewing table in March. And, I love it. I feel like a total fox.

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You can tell I am just FEELING myself.

Rather than sew facings this time (which I despised) I used a narrow knit binding treatment. The binding is cut 1 inch wide on the bias. It is then sewn on doubled, along the 1/4 inch seam allowance, and folded again creating a strong binding that is the width of the seam allowance.   **technique well explained and photographed in Singer’s ‘Sewing Activewear’.

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The fabric was a little thin so I underlined throughout (except for the sleeves) with black tricot. I underlined rather than lined as I wanted it to be treated as one piece. And, it was a terrible, terrible mistake. I tried to hem the dress. But, the underlining and fashion fabric hung differently making it a lumpy saggy mess. So, I had to hack off several inches, trim the bottom evenly and go with no hem. Overall it’s shorter than I would like, but again: FEEL. ING. MY. SELF.

After my last project’s failure, I ended up wearing this out for my birthday dinner in Santa Fe with Jordan. Rawwrr.

Not All Sunshine: Simplicity 8013

I don’t really subscribe to the Birthday Dress trend in the sewing community. But, I’m turning 32+8 next week and taking a little mini break to Santa Fe with Jordan.  I thought it would be nice to have something fabulous to wear to dinner. I chose Simplicity 8013 because it’s stunning. But, also because it’s a 70s pattern. I was born in ’76 I love a little joke whenever possible.

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The reviews for this dress aren’t extensive.  I noticed that several were baggy in the bust or low enough that people wore chemises underneath. With that in mind, I made up the 12 bodice (which measures 37 at the bust), made my 1.5 inch FBA and pinned it onto my dress form (which I padded out using these instructions from Dritz).

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Paper Fit #1

I felt pretty good about the fit and decided to make the lining first so I could test it out. After sewing up the the bodice lining (not shown) I decided to add  another .5 inches to the FBA  (this is drafted for a B and I’m a G/DDDD) and raise the neckline by 1/2 inch.

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Muslin #2

For good measure, I of course tried it on myself. Not bad, eh? I thought I’d raise the neckline another 1/2 inch to keep the girls covered and and another 1/4 inch FBA based on the muslin below.

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Muslin #3

So, I confidently cut into my fashion fabric and was rewarded with a hard slap in the face. What in the hell is this gapey mess? I feel like I’ve been betrayed.

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I don’t know what happened. But, once I cut into my fashion fabric the bodice was horrible. Too much fabric, yet not enough bust coverage and weirdly small bodice too.

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Gah. It looks like Sadness from Inside Out.

 

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Seems like this will be a Christmas 2016 dress rather than the milestone dress I planned. Luckily, I have just enough fabric to try again. But, I’m clearly going back to the drawing board.

On a positive note, my Chantelle bra matches my skin tone really well -_-

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Good lord that’s hideous.