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.

Burda 10/2011 #122 / #123: Maxi Knit Wrap Dress

This pattern is also OOP Burda envelope pattern #7187

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I wanted to make a non-winter dress for our nice (read: Valentine’s) dinner out in San Antonio over the holiday weekend. Back in November, I bought a stack of poly knits for $3.99 a yard from Jomar in Philadelphia on our way home from Long Island, NY. I loved this fabric because I figured I could play around with print placement.

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This pattern was made up four different ways in the magazine, a top, dresses with three lengths with two sleeve options. Plus, there’s a gorgeous flounce you can add if you have the right fabric to carry it off. For this dress, I chose #123 for the length, minus the flounce. And #121 for the bell sleeves.  The pattern(s) are available still on Burdastyle. The pattern calls for either a woven or a knit. And, because the print was on the border, I even cut the dress with the stretch going vertically at the front, and horizontally at the back. I would normally never do that (different pieces hanging / stretching differently), but I was stuck on making the print run vertically instead of horizontally  as it was printed.

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I’m normally not a ‘black’ clothing person. But, the print definitely helps keep me interested. Sadly, I didn’t go a great job on the print placement. I think it’s a little jarring the way it worked out. In an ideal world, the print would have had more of a northwest to southeast orientation and maybe a hit of color on the bottom right to balance out the left side. But, I’m glad I tried to do something different with it.

Below might be the view I like best since I was able to wrangle some print on to the bell sleeve hem too.

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I can tell you I really love this pattern for a wrap dress and think it might become my TNT wrap. Why?

1. There are bust darts already!! Easier (for me) to make a FBA (mine was 1.5 inches)

2. There are release darts at the waist. So, there’s is great shaping that doesn’t come from negative fabric ease. Plus, it’s so easy to shove the volume created from your FBA into the waist dart.

3. The pattern is in three lengths. Yes, yes, I know I could just cut or lengthen myself. But, I is lazy.

4. I didn’t have to adjust the ‘V’. So, no awkward cleavage.

5. It already has a centerback seam and darts in the back which only help with my swayback adjustment.

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The pattern calls for an interfaced facing. For this, I followed Ann’s Wrap-A-Palooza lead and added clear elastic to stabilize the front and shoulders. If not for her posts, I’m sure I would have just turned and topstitched instead of cutting a facing. The facing does flip out along the skirt. Could be because facings suck at life or because the skirt is cut off grain. I like to think it’s a combo of the two. Definitely next time I’m going to practice using the binder on my cover stitch and bind the edges.

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I sewed a 40, grading to a 46 at the lower thigh. This dress was exactly what I was looking for in a traveling Valentine’s Weekend. It packed well. It’s good for my body type and think it works for me. There are some issues I see that I hope to fix in my next versions (not mixing fabric direction, pattern twinning) And, I’m curious to sew this in a knit where the stretch goes around the body rather than up and down. Luckily, I have two or three more knits to try this out in.

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Ahhh, Jordan loves nothing better than to spend 20 minutes taking blog photos out in public on our mini break just before heading to a nice dinner. This is me, getting annoyed at him, getting annoyed at me. It’s obviously a vicious cycle.

Revisiting the La Mia Boutique Sweatshirt Dress

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One of my most worn and beloved garments is my LMB sweatshirt dress from the August 2008 Italian magazine. Such a simple design and concept in a sweatshirt dress. I got compliments every time I wore that dress!  After five years of wear, I thought it was time I made up a new one. Or, two.

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Yes, yes. In my last post I said I was getting back to color. And, yet, here I am again sewing grey and navy. What can I say? I’m currently a sucker for simplicity.

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Like last time, I made the largest size in LMB, a 46 and left off the pockets. Which, makes me think I was sewing clothes way big for me five years ago. Or, I like my clothes a little snugger now? But, this time I added some six centimeters of wearing ease around the thighs and attempted a FBA. Other alterations?

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Well, I tried to add some shaping at the waist. It remains unclear if this worked or not. I also took off my standard 1/4 inch off the shoulders.

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I also shortened the sleeves a good three inches. And, I took about four inches of length off the hem of the original pattern.

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One thing I’ve noticed is I have inconsistent dart placement when I add FBAs to garments.  Sometimes they are SO LOW. In this one, I had to take out my original dart and pin it into the right place. In retrospect, this probably could have been a dartless FBA to keep with the loose fitting silhouette.

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I sewed everything but the darts on my serger. And, if you’re wondering, my ribbing is all local and $1 a pack. That’s right. Stadham Corp here in Baltimore charged me $1 for a pair of cuffs and another $1 for the hem cuffs.

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And now I’m off to work on a Valentine’s Day dress. We’re spending the long weekend in San Antonio, Texas. We debated between there and Cleveland, Ohio. But, based on today’s weather report, it’s already 30 degrees warmer in San Antonio than both Baltimore and Cleveland. So, that was an easy choice.

Burda 7-2014-113: Cycling / Sport Dress

We are back from our grand tour and I have so much to share about the kindness of international bloggers, lingerie fabric shopapalooza and our fantastic trip in general. But, I figured I’d start with the most sewing related, which is my cycle dress previewed before I left. I’m not sure how long cycling dresses have been around. But, it was Ann Marie from Montreal on Facebook who first suggested one to me. WHO KNEW? Plus, Claire has done all these terrific posts on making her own biking gear. I decided I wanted to wear bike dresses for this trip for a few reasons. 1. I do not look good in bike shorts. 2. I love dresses. 3. Packing is so easy!

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As soon as I saw this pattern in the July 2014 BurdaStyle I thought it was perfect. It has a short flared skirt, the zipper in the front is great for venting and I wanted to keep my shoulders covered. I’ll tell you this much, it was referred to as a tennis dress on our trip more than once! But, overall was a hit with the women in our group.  What I found amusing is that our group was dressed in serious biking gear. All bike shorts, jerseys and racing helmets.  I felt my outfits were right in the middle and I didn’t look too athletic for our 50km a day rides. And, um, I’m not wearing a stitch of makeup in 80 percent of these photos. Please, don’t judge me🙂

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in Ghent, Belgium

Anywhoo, a few details.  Alterations included unpetiting the pattern and making a FBA. I made three versions for the trip. The first in blue and grey was really my muslin. It’s made from something or the other from some online store or the other. I seriously have minimal recollection.I think it’s four years old.

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This fabric was TERRIBLE for this. It’s too thin, not enough recovery and you can see my drawers. I made the back all dark grey since I thought light blue would make my rear look wide as a trailer. This fabric was a BEYOTCH to get through my Brother Coverstitch. I, um, don’t know that this version is staying in my collection.

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I also recommend adding several inches to the length if you make this one up. It’s short. Especially on a bike. The other change I made was just to use an invisible zipper at the center front instead of an exposed zip. I totally would have done one if I’d had a sport plastic style on hand. But, I didn’t.

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The other two versions were fabric from the DelMarVa blogger meet up 18 months ago. I got it from Beth who I think was planning golf clothes. I don’t remember why she gave up the ghost. But, it worked out well for me! The fabric was from FabricMart probably three years ago and some kind of wicking athletic fabric. I essentially let the amount of fabric I have dictate the print placement.

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On the reddish burgundy, the print is through the center front and center back only. Super narrow cut. I also added an inseam zipper pocket for my phone or snacks. I ran out of the print and used plain black jersey from my stash for the neck and sleeve bands.

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On the tan/ cafe au lait, the dahlia print is on the outside edges. The tan version proved to be my most popular one on Instagram.

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You’ll note I didn’t follow Burda’s suggested color blocking. Because, when you sew you don’t have to.

For all three versions, I used my coverstitch to finish. And, on the tan, I added an extra inch. I am so not well versed in my overstitch usage. This project was good for getting me to use it more. But, I notice on thin fabrics it was really stretching it out (note the neckline on the red version). But, it loved the beefier Fabric Mart knits I made the final two from (note the flat neckline on the tan version).

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I’m wearing padded shorts underneath all of them.

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I wore these dresses for the one week we were biking (washing one each night in the sink) so they were worn twice each. In the mornings I would put on my Under Armour cropped studio jacket. It also helped make it look different.

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As for the weather…It was kind of terrible some days, lol! There was one day I didn’t bike at all because it was freezing and starting to sprinkle. Me and two Brazillians stayed on board. At the end of the day, Jordan came back and said it was awful. The temps dipped below 60 degrees Fahrenheit and 15 mins into the ride, cold, horizontal rain. Some of the people came back having used the lunch sandwich bags as little gloves to keep the cold and rain from their fingers. I went from feeling lazy for staying on board the barge to super smart in 22 seconds. It also was a cold snap in general with temps about 20 degrees (F)  less than they were at home and ten degrees (F) less than is normal for that time of year. We had to go to H&M our first day in town and stock up on warmer clothing. Like, fall coats. Layers I had. But, not enough long pants to keep me warm when not biking.

Overall, I REALLY like this pattern. I’m totally making it up in the winter with 3/4 sleeves in wool jersey.  The pattern needs some tweaking in the upper bust for fit (wrinkles) before I make it up for regular wear. But, as is, these are great for running, tennis, golfing and biking🙂 It’s a little Star Trekie. But, I happen to really like Star Trek. And, Star Wars. And, the X-Men franchise. And, the Avengers….

BWOF 11-2007 #107 : Pink and Cream Seersucker Cross Dart Dress

Oh, hey.

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I don’t know know that there is a seersucker I don’t like.  I started this dress almost two months ago to wear to a summer ‘picnic wedding’ in upstate NY where the dress was ‘summer semi-formal’. I didn’t get it done in time😦

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My sewing of this dress greatly benefited from having lots of extra fabric. I had to recut the bodice three time due to incredible user error. I first used this seersucker to make a sailor-inspired skirt two years ago. The fabric is kind of see through, so this time I underlined the bodice with cotton batiste.

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I’ve wanted to make this dress since it came out in 2007. I thought the bodice darts were so interesting. Add a full pleated skirt and it’s totally speaking my language.

 

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Not only did I need an FBA, I had to move the darts down a good 1.5 inches too in addition to changing the angle of the darts downward. So, while it doesn’t look exactly like the original, it fits and flatters me so much better.

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Like a dolt, I sewed up the shoulders and sides before remembering the correct sleeveless construction order. That meant I needed to use a bit of bias at the neckline so I could clean finish everything. This would have also looked awesome if I’d used the binding at the armholes too (thought for next time).

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The inside of this dress is really my favorite. I used the time consuming but my favorite method: facing lining combo.  I drafted the bodice lining using the included facing. I looks so ready to wear to me! It’s much more work, but worth the effort I think. There is no peeping out of lining from the sleeves or neckline this way.

I used ALL the machines on this dress. Sewn up on my Bernina 830 using the AMAZING invisible zipper foot.

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Seriously. Perfect insertion every time. I hate to admit that this sucker was worth the $40.

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The hem of the lining is made with my Brother Coverstitch (my new favorite way to do lining).

 

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And the hem of the dress itself is secured with rayon tape and my Japanese-made  blind hemmer (using the invisible thread).

Seriously. All. The. Machines.

I think this dress would benefit from a belt. But, I don’t have one that works. Yet. I’m thinking a pale blue or teal? I would also make the tulle underskirt if I need this for dress up rather than work.

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Overall, I’m meh on the dress. I put a ton of effort in to it. But, I really don’t like it on me. On the dressform it’s rocking. But, the proportions are ever so slightly off on me and I look like a rectangle.  I’m sorry it didn’t make it to the wedding as thematically it was perfect. I am just off my sewing game as of late. I have one more skirt to post that I made a few weeks ago and I’ll be caught up in project back log.

Granny’s 90th Birthday Party Dress: Vogue Patterns 8633

As I started to write this blog post, I looked up Carolyn’s blog. It was her post that alerted me to this fabric at Metro three years ago (and she sent it to me too!). Then, I clicked the link to Allison C’s blog (she bought the same fabric) and see she used the same fabric, on the same pattern, on Fourth of July weekend three years ago. How funny is that?  I actually said out loud, “You’ve got to be kidding me!”  hehehe.


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For my (maternal) Granny’s 90th birthday party this past weekend in Brooklyn (New York), I went in to deep deep stash and pulled out this border print cotton.  One reason I was committed to sewing and wearing a dress is that my grandmother was a seamstress in Carriacou, Grenada, WI. She was sent as a small girl down the road to a woman who taught her how to sew. My grandfather was also a tailor in Grenada. It makes me feel incredibly connected to my roots when I make clothes. I caught my mom looking at me once when I was adjusting a garment on her. She said it reminded me of her father. I never met my grandfather, he passed before I was born. All that being said, granny didn’t teach me how to sew. I learned in Home Ec and from books. But, I do remember her making a dress for me in college. And, I remember her inspecting my work when I started sewing. Granny thought I did a good job even though I needed a pattern (that I paid good money for no less!). Oh, she said I also needed to work on my  finishing :-) 

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From the Vogue website. View DE.

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I decided to let the stripes speak on the border print. I did think about the stripe placement. The possibilities (with enough material) for placement with this dress are endless. I could have done the entire bodice in stripes. Or placed the stripes on one side. Or, just did the skirt in stripes and kept the bodice solid. Seriously, endless possibilities.

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The cotton has a thinner hand. So, I underlined the bodice and waistband with silk organza. The dress is lined throughout with black cotton batiste. I finished the skirt hem with my blind hemmer and a little hem tape. I am in love with my hemmer y’all!

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I despise facings. But, on this, I see how it works. I was able to use my blind hemmer to attach the facing so it wasn’t floppy. I’m still getting the hang of it….. A colleague wore a similar dress last week. The ‘V’ is lined with lining all the way to the edge (rather than a facing) She said her neckline always flips out. So, for that reason I’m glad I have the facing.

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I cut and sewed a 14. Made a 1/2 inch FBA and took in the waist about one inch.  I also did not make a swayback. The bias skirt give a TON of volume and awesome swing. 

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This skirt is not rear end friendly if you’ve got some junk in the trunk. On me, I think I look wider than I am in the butt and hips because of the folds of the bias skirt.

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Even on the dress form, I think it adds some width. Or, I’m just telling myself that…

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I was super happy to see my parents this weekend too. They drove up to NYC from Florida.

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 I don’t know when my dad got so grey in the beard. He’s a handsome devil isn’t he? My mom is standing with a first cousin below. And that’s a cousin behind us.

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So, peeps, I’m getting old. My cousins are having babies and I’m a second cousin to five (the oldest being a pre-teen 12). Here’s a photo with the newest addition to our family (she’s an identical twin). You can see her sister in a matching outfit through the door. I remember when her mom was still in diapers!!  She’s so STINKING precious. Oh, those are two more cousins behind us.

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Here’s a first cousin. We’re only 30 years apart🙂 That’s another first cousin behind us to the left.

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And a first cousin from my generational cohort.  That’s another first cousin behind us. I can’t even count all the cousins. I think… 15 first cousins plus the five second cousins were in attendance.

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Super happy with my dress. I’m very pleased I was able to wear it in honor of my grandmother. Because of an incident, she was not physically able to attend her celebration on Sunday.  It was a wonderful tribute to her to see how many people she’s impacted. If you have any extra prayers and positive vibes to give out, they’d be greatly appreciated right about now.

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Burda Magazine 9/2012 #109: Blue Wool Sweater Dress

I’m continuing my current passion for sweater knits in this Burda sheath dress from September 2012. While I’m still tracing mine from the magainze (tears), you can download it for a mere $5.40 from the BurdaStyle website here.

This marine blue knit was purchased in the same bundle as the autumnal pullover I just completed. The knit is incredibly soft. I love the way the colors meld in this knit. I originally sewed this dress to wear to a Hanukkah party and have pulled it out a few times for work since then.

Since the pattern uses the same upper body model as my recent pullover, the FBA alterations on the French darts / busts were already done.

I love the sleeve technique used. See the pleat at the deltoid? It’s sewn in one fell swoop with the shoulder seam.

Next time I make this dress (and there will be a next time) I’m going to use the same back neckline  from the original pullover. I decided to skip the zipper, but you’ll see here in the back that this dress version doesn’t have the v-shape back necline as the pullover.

That makes the dress little bit of a stretch to get in and out of since I use interfacing along the neckline and armholes to reduce… well, stretching. Also, I think this a lot of dark fabric too close to my face. I thrive in color and I think something more open in the neckline might be more flatterning.

Is it strange that only in the last two years I’ve noticed how incredibly short my neck is? Strange because I’ve always thought my mom had a short neck. Now, I think *I* have a short neck. Which means, of course, that I’m well on my way to becoming my mother….

Notice I’m not holding a remote nor am I in my backyard or dining room? It’s was so foggy when I wore this dress. So, I talked my friend Liz in to being my photographer and this is our conference room. Man, it’s so much easier to have someone else take your pictures (as long as they know you need 60 to have one good shot).

Look at me! I’m ‘working’.

Look at me! I’m ‘modeling’

Heh.

I’m a fan of this dress and have to thank Caroline for turning me on to the style! I feel more coming in wool jersey, don’t you?

I have two more sweater knit projects coming, including something I never thought I’d make. A cardigan! Stay tuned🙂

The material for this dress was purchased in part using an allowance from Mood Fabrics for the Mood Sewing Network