Archive for ‘Garments’

June 25, 2012

Golden Hills Maxi

Pattern: Self drafted (to achieve a similar look, I’d recommend Jamie Christina’s Mission Maxi)

Fabric: about 2 yards of Ella Moss rayon jersey and tricot swimsuit lining

Notions: Wooly Nylon

Time to Complete: Weeks… but I’ll be able to bust the next one out in a few hours.


Remember this challenge? The one where we tried to sew a style that we wouldn’t normally wear? The one Ina of Sky Turtle inspired? Even though my first dress skirt left much to be desired, I was determined to make this pattern work. After I returned from vacation, I picked it back up with help from my instructor and finished it just in time for the first week of summer!

I’d say the biggest road block to this garment was the fabric. My first version taught me to avoid fabrics with vertical stretch – no one wants to watch the hemline grow throughout the day. I wanted a lightweight fabric with a nice subtle drape that hugged rather than clung. This meant that online shopping was out of the question if I didn’t want to order dozens of swatches. I headed to Stone Mountain Daughter Fabrics in Berkeley and found this knit but I was a little worried about its opacity.  It’s ever so slightly sheer so my instructor suggested lining it with nylon tricot (think swimsuit lining). I was resistant at first (wouldn’t it be hot or itchy?) but I’m so glad I took her advice. I’m not seeing the static cling that I did with my jersey lining and the tricot acts like a lightweight girdle holding me in without restricting me.

Once I had the fabric finalized, the construction of this dress was a breeze – two long seams later, I was ready to think about finishing the neckline and armholes. There are dozens of ways to bind a neckline and the choice can be a bit overwhelming. I’m no expert and I was petrified that I’d stretch the edges out. I tested several samples but finally chose a simple self fabric binding with a narrow coverstitch to secure. I’m so proud of the work as it’s the flattest binding I have ever done. If you’re interested in the method I used, I’d be interested in doing a tutorial.

I’m so happy with this dress and you’ll be seeing many, many more versions to come. For the last few summers, I’ve enviously watched women in their maxi dresses wishing I could pull one off. At 5’1, there’s little chance of finding a dress with the right proportions in the store. For me, this is what sewing is all about. Being able to create any style to match my shape is a dream. When I came out in it for the first time, my husband exclaimed, “it’s as if it were made for you!” He’s always been good with the obvious.

June 20, 2012

Drape Drape No. 13

Pattern: No. 13 from Drape Drape Vol. 1

Fabric: Jersey from Gorgeous Fabrics

Notions: none

Time to Complete: If I added it all up maybe 5 or 6 hours?


I had been in the mood for a high impact but little effort project and this dress delivered! I was a little worried about getting arrested for indecent exposure but it’s surprisingly wearable. I mean, it’s not an everyday garment but it’s not as revealing as I thought it would be. The drape falls beautifully to the back so unless you’re bending down, you’re actually quite covered in the front. While I did end up wearing it over my swimsuit on this particular afternoon, I’m not limiting the dress to the beach. It layers nicely over brightly hued or lacy bandeaus and is perfect for the sweltering weather we’ve been having. While not the most practical garment, it’s so much fun to wear!

The construction is crazy simple. It’s cut from one piece with a seam down the back so the majority of the sewing is in finishing the armholes, neckline, and hem. I finished the neckline and armholes by serging a folded fabric strip to the unfinished edge and then tacking down the seam allowance with the coverstitch. I’m still working on my coverstitch dexterity (especially around curves) but it looks pretty good. There are only two spots (and of course they are front and center on the neckline) that are a little crooked. I also used the coverstitch to finish the hem. I initially thought it might be too sporty for the garment but it blends so nicely and doesn’t interfere with the drape at all.

The book labels the garment as a tunic so I decided to add about 4 inches of length to make it a dress. Absolutely unnecessary! I ended up cutting away all of that excess but it still hits just above my knees. Since the front of the dress is a little shapeless, I’d prefer it even shorter. I’d take it up a few inches but the design tapers and that type of alteration is best dealt with at the pattern level. There’s always next time! One good thing – I’m confident that I’ll be able to fit into any of these designs despite being several inches larger than the XL.

My favorite part of the garment has to be the fabric. This poly/lycra blend is like no other jersey I have ever felt. It doesn’t cling like I’ve come to expect from poly-knits and it has the most wonderful texture that Ann describes as “spongy”. It drapes beautiful with a substantial weight but doesn’t feel heavy to wear. There are only 9 yards left at Gorgeous Fabrics so nab this one while you can. I would buy it in every color if it weren’t a one and only!

I’ve been a bit knit obsessed lately and it’s not going to stop any time soon! I’ve been getting so much use out of my new serger and now that I’m more familiar with the machine I owe you all a good solid review of the Bernina 1300MDC. For those of you who have asked about the machine, are there particular features that you’d like to hear about?

June 19, 2012

Join Me at Dixie DIY!

I’m guest posting at Dixie DIY today. I absolutely love Dixie’s Summer Concert Tee Pattern with its dropped shoulders and asymmetrical hem. I thought the design would make a great summer cardigan and couldn’t resist making a few modifications to the pattern. While Dixie’s sitting on the beach, I’m over on her blog showing you how to make one too!

June 4, 2012

Silk, Cotton, Sand

Pattern: Self drafted

Fabric: Silk/Cotton from Stone Mountain Daughter Fabrics

Notions: Elastic for the waist

Time to Complete: This project had way, WAY too many muslins!


We just returned from Ambergris Caye, Belize. It was a great week of playing in the sun and sea – lots of snorkeling and some scuba diving, too! We hadn’t been diving in years and I had forgotten how much I love it. Since returning home, we’ve visited all the local dive shops in hopes of getting back in the water soon. Regardless, the vacation came at the right time and I’m feeling much more relaxed. It was so nice to get outdoors and spend some time in the sun. While there, I couldn’t help myself and took some pictures of my new sundress. I’ve been so excited to show them to you!

This dress is part of a two dress project at school. I wanted to create a lightweight sundress that’s easy to slip on and off at the beach but could still look put together at dinner. The dress features a scoop neckline, a subtle asymmetrical hem (although these pictures are making me think it’s a little too subtle), and a gathered waist with elastic casing. The neckline and armhole are bound with self made bias tape. This particular one is unlined but I can see including a lining in other versions.

The drafting of this project took way too long for something so simple. It took me a while to figure out that the neckline dart that I added to prevent gaping in the lowered neckline had pulled the waistline and dart apex up. To be honest, I didn’t want to include a dart – I thought it would look bulky with the gathered bodice – but my instructor insisted that one should be there. I still don’t agree because when worn it has a tendency to wrinkle and isn’t necessary for building a cup. Oh well, I can always change this outside of class.

Despite everything being in its right place, I still couldn’t decide if I liked the garment. Muslin is difficult for me to look past and I eventually caved and made it up in some fashion fabric. I purchased this yardage at Stone Mountain Daughter in the sale section for my spring wardrobe but never found the time to make something. I was thrilled that I could make this up before our trip and it was a really lovely piece to have on the beach.

Now for some catching up on my reader – can’t wait to hear what you all have been up to!

May 16, 2012

Italian Cotton

Pattern: Self drafted sleeveless blouse

Fabric: Italian Cotton Lawn from Britex

Notions: buttons from Once Around, a new-to-me craft store in Mill Valley.


I’ve been in a funk lately. I’m in need of a change and I’m struggling to make the next step in my career. Part of that struggle is that I don’t really know what it is that I want, I just know it isn’t this. The other struggle is that I don’t want to be ungrateful. I’m so appreciative of what work I do have… I have lovely coworkers, great hours, and an incredible boss. Unfortunately, there’s no room in the position to grow and I feel stagnant when I’m not learning. Being at work drains every little bit of life right out of me. That’s certainly no way to live but it’s hard to leave a job for the uncertainty of living without a paycheck.

Through all this, I’ve been using sewing as an outlet and so it’s no surprise that I’ve been gravitating towards designs with a lot of ease and maneuverability. The heat of summer is setting in and after many years of hating the season, I’m ready to embrace it. For me, summer has always been about freedom and I’d like my clothing to be a reflection of this. That means that I’m throwing out the challenges for this season. From the fabric to the sewing experience, it’s all about a carefree and easy going attitude!

Now, you may recognize this blouse pattern from my Spring Wardrobe Challenge although it was made in a knit last time. This time around, I added a button placket using the instructions from the Banksia Blouse (method 2 for those of you who have it). There are french seams throughout and self-made bias binding for the armholes and neckline. The hem was finished on my serger with a 2 thread rolled hem. This was my first time using this stitch and I love the delicate look. All of this makes for a very clean inside which I adore.

This is turning out to be a year of transitions for a lot of people. I’m trying to remind myself that the best thing I can do is keep moving forward and to leave time for the things that bring me joy. The rest will eventually fall into place.

May 1, 2012

Part 1: The Maxi Skirt

Pattern: Self drafted

Fabric: Unknown jersey from the free bin at school

Notions: None

Time To Complete: After drafting, 20 minutes


As much as I love the look of a maxi dress or skirt, I’ve never considered wearing one. At 5’1, it’s not only been impossible to find one in stores that would fit me but it’s also been in grained in me that they are only flattering on taller beauties. So when I teamed up with Ina, from SkyTurtle, to make an item we wouldn’t normally wear, I knew a maxi dress was mine! In case you missed my inspiration, I was after a sleeveless knit max with a scoop neck, razor back, and flare at the hip. I wanted something form fitting but still casual. Although I chose to self draft my dress, Jamie Christina’s Mission Maxi Dress Pattern would have been the ticket.

While at school one day working on my maxi dress draft, I spied this grey blue jersey in the free bin. It was a much more appropriate weight than the knit fabric I had brought for my muslin so I chose to use it instead. Knowing that I had ordered some fabric online especially for this project, I didn’t give much thought to testing out new methods of binding necklines and armholes on the muslin.

The following week, my fabric arrived and I was so excited. I ordered two different options from Gorgeous Fabrics: a shimmery chevron and a bold swirl. I figured between the two there would be an appropriate option but I was sorely disappointed. The shimmery chevron, to put it lightly, is tacky. From the pictures you have no idea just how shimmery we’re talking but it’s not the sort of thing that day dresses are made of. The bold swirl could work but I didn’t like the way the poly/lycra clung rather than skimmed the body. In all fairness, they are really lovely textiles but I couldn’t bring myself to cut into them when I knew they weren’t what I was after.

At the eleventh hour, I decided to salvage my maxi dress muslin. I sliced it off at the waist and made a double fold waistband. While it’s not a complete failure I wouldn’t call it a success. It’s nothing like the gorgeous skirt Ina made! My main complaint is that it just doesn’t go in my wardrobe. I had an awful time putting an outfit together and it seemed like every idea I had my closet couldn’t provide. I actually think this could look quite nice with a thin white tank top but amazingly I don’t own one! Instead, I settled for this white shirt I made last fall. It works but I do feel like I have a lot of fabric on.

For the pictures I had this lovely idea of a wind swept beach background. The reality versus fantasy when taking photos still cracks me up. I imagined myself as a sea goddess thrown amongst barnacle festooned rocks. A graceful Venus arriving at the shore…

In actuality, a day at the beach looks a bit more like this:

April 18, 2012

4. Bougainvillea

Pattern: Iris from Colette Patterns

Fabric: Red wool twill from the remnants bin at Stone Mountain Daughter Fabrics

Notions: Interfacing, invisible zipper, some scrap rayon for the pockets

Time to Complete:4 – 5 hours


I was pretty excited when I heard that Colette Patterns was releasing a shorts pattern for spring. I had it downloaded, printed, and assembled within hours of their announcement! Alright, so it doesn’t have a fly zipper but the shorts looked so cute on the model that I didn’t care. I’ll admit, when I first finished these I was a little underwhelmed. I don’t know what it was but they just didn’t thrill me. However, after wearing them for a day, I’m in love! They are so comfy but still flattering that I wouldn’t hesitate to make them again.

Once I had the pattern assembled, I went about choosing the size I would cut. In Colette world, I am a perfect size 10 below the waist (30 1/2″ waist and 40 1/2″ hip), however, the finished garment measurements were more important to me. The Iris shorts come with 1/2″ ease at the waist. I went to my closet and measured some of my favorite shorts with a higher rise and found that none of them cut it this close. Most had 1 1/2″ to 2″ of ease so I cut a size 12 (finished waist measurement was 32 1/2″). I was a little concerned that this would leave me with too much room in the hips but I figured that I could shave off some from this pair and then grade the pattern for later makes. In the end, this wasn’t necessary as the shorts fit almost perfectly!

Construction went so quickly! Over the course of a few days, I assembled these in small spurts. I figure it took me no more than 5 hours to cut and sew these shorts. I’m really happy with my sewing overall. I’ve struggled in the past to get a smooth waistband and this is probably the closest I’ve come. Everything will be perfect until I go to topstitch the facing down. When I finish the waistband warps and shifts and looks so terrible. There’s a little bit of wrinkling but nothing more than many of my RTW shorts. I think I may be finally gaining some finesse with fabric rather than torturing it!

I didn’t stray from the instructions too much on this project. However, I did try something new on the crotch seam. The instructions have you clip the curves before finishing the seam but, frankly, I’ve never seen a pair of RTW shorts with clipped seam allowances there. Once again, I went to my closet and pulled a pair of shorts out that have really lovely construction. I studied the way these were made and did the following:

  • I trimmed the seam allowance to 3/8″
  • Serged
  • Understitched to one side of the pants.

This worked perfectly! Sure, you can see a small row of stitching on the right side if you’re looking closely but it’s actually rather nice looking. The best thing is, the seam is perfect and there are no wrinkles around the curve. Now the seam is beautiful and stronger!

I also tried out a coverstitch for my hem. You heard me right – coverstitch. No, my little Singer serger doesn’t have the capability but my brand new serger does! I’ve been in the market for a new serger for a while now and I finally took the plunge this week. I’ll tell you more about it in a separate post but it’s been a game changer. I have seams on these shorts finished with my old one as well as the new and it is night and day. I’m left to wonder how it took me so long (alright, so not that long) to upgrade.

I know several of you are making these shorts right now. How’s your progress going?

March 30, 2012

Sew Weekly: Pantone

I don’t know about you but March has been one doozy of a month. Nothing bad – just a really busy month.  I’ve finally (on the last two days!) given in and accepted that I can’t keep up with it! This past week I was lucky enough to have my darling mom in town and we had such a great time hanging out together. I just put her on the shuttle to the airport and now I’m sitting in my quiet apartment looking out at the rain. It’s hard not to feel lonely after such a great visit!

If you didn’t catch it, the minty peplum blouse pictured above was featured on Sew Weekly yesterday! I’m so flattered! This is the charmeuse I mentioned last week and it’s the third (technically fourth) garment in my spring wardrobe challenge. I had originally picked up the fabric for another swingy tank top but at the last minute I thought it would work better as this peplum blouse. Jump on over to the post for more details on the construction.

I hope you all had a great week! Any fun plans for the weekend?

March 9, 2012

2. Magnolia

Pattern: Self drafted

Fabric: Wool blend gabardine and bemberg rayon from

Notions: 1 zipper and fusible interfacing

Time: An afternoon


I’ve been trying to decide what to call this color. Is it teal? Is it turquoise? I don’t know but I love it! I actually think it’s a seasonless color and I expect to be able wear this skirt long after spring has passed. The fabric’s color changes depending on the light – it’s more green in the shade and more blue in the sun – which made it rather difficult to find matching thread and zipper.

Speaking of fabric – this is probably the worst quality yardage I have ever worked with. It’s labeled as a wool/poly blend but at times it felt more like rattan. While working with it, it splintered, split, and shredded. It would stretch out of shape despite staystitching and it was so weak that I couldn’t even consider ripping out stitches.  I had my doubts as to whether it would look okay on but somehow it pulled itself together at the last-minute and made a great looking skirt. I have a feeling the bemberg lining had something to do with it. 

The skirt is self drafted. From my sloper, I dropped the waist and drafted a 2″ contoured waistband. I shortened the hem to the same height as my grey mini skirt (JCrew) and then drafted a lining with a jump pleat (also known as a bagged lining). All darts were removed making it a very straightforward sewing job. Once I had everything cut and interfaced, it came to together in less than an hour. If you’re looking for a similar pattern, try In House Pattern’s A New York Mini. The pattern as written is unlined but you could always add one if desired. 

Have you ever wondered what would happen if you installed a normal zipper as you would an invisible one? Seriously stupid maneuver. I had it in my head that I’d purchased an invisible zipper and couldn’t for the life of me figure out why I couldn’t stitch closer to the teeth. It wasn’t until I tried the thing on that I realized the head was facing the wrong way. That’s right, the pull is facing towards my body. Unfortunately the fabric was so frail there was no turning back and I’m just grateful that I can still zip it up this way. You can see the zipper tape just a hair but from far away it’s really not bad.

I couldn’t help but include a close up of my new shoes. Since my spring palette is so bold, I figured a pair of cream colored shoes would keep bright outfits from overwhelming me. I had my eyes on a different pair and went to Nordstrom’s to try them on but when I saw these Born’s I knew they were the ones.

Overall, I’m very happy with the outcome and I know I’ll be wearing this skirt all spring. I can’t wait to start pairing it with my spring blouses and tops!

March 7, 2012

1.5 Cherry Blossom

Pattern: Self drafted

Fabric: Tencel Jersey

Notions:  Fusi-knit tricot interfacing and some silk organza selvedge to stabilize the shoulders

Time: This went together so quickly that I don’t even remember making it.


If you recall, part of my wardrobe plan was a flared tank top made from a woven silk. I drafted a pattern and made a muslin a few weeks ago. The shoulders and upper bust were good but without a drapey fabric it was hard to get an idea of how the flare would fall. While working on another garment on Saturday I happened to spy the leftover yardage from my first top. Although, the pattern is intended for a woven fabric, I figured it would give me a good enough idea of how much flare I drafted in. And it did!

It’s a nice top and I’m happy with the amount of drape in the front. I used many of the same techniques as my last top although I substituted silk organza selvedge to stabilize the shoulder seams. I also forgot to remove the seam allowance from the neck and armholes for the binding method I used but it worked out just fine. What I’m most proud of though is my drafting for the back. When I’m standing straight, the back falls perfectly over my curves! When I make it from a woven fabric, I hope it looks just as beautiful.