Tuesday, December 22, 2015

A trio of knit dresses, adventures with the Cashmerette Appleton!

It is very rare that I repeat the same pattern 3 times in a row in such a short period of time! However, I just fell in love with the Appleton dress. 
The checked version was my muslin. I used a very inexpensive sweater knit from JoAnns that had similar stretch qualities to my fashion fabrics. It turned out well enough to keep as a wearable muslin! Yay, love when that happens!! I have no visions of this dress lasting for years and years. The fabric is not the highest quality and will surely pill quite badly, which is why it was used as my muslin. With that said, I will enjoy it to its fullest while it lasts.

So, why did I make 2 more versions? Well, I simply could not decide on which fabric to use!! So I cut both out at the same time and sewed them up at the same time with black thread in my sewing machine and serger. Not having to change thread colors helped to simplify my decision to do both.

The second reason for making both was purely a factor of comfort and fit. With the Appleton being a full wrap dress the fit is forgiving as I lose weight and comfortable with regards to my abdomen. Fact is I am steadily losing weight with my current pancreas issues and pants with waistbands and more constricting garments can be quite uncomfortable. Although, I have lost enough weight that all my jeans are loose enough to not bother me. I'm trying to stay positive and look at the positives of the weight loss. Soon, I'll have this health stuff all managed and I'll go back to having to work my ass off to lose even an ounce!!

I digress....
Back to my dresses.
Pattern: Appleton by Cashmerette. Comes in sizes 12-28 with 3 different cup sizes c/d e/f g/h
I cut a size 20 c/d from the upper waist and up and to a 24 from the hips down with a nice blend through the waist. 
Blue watercolor double faced ITY knit from fabricmart- 100%poly
Electrical Storm Knit, a super soft French knit from Smugglers Daughter- 96%viscose 4%elastic
Black/Brown checked sweater knit from JoAnne super sale table- Unknown likely polyester

Each fabric gives a different look to the dress.

The electrical storm version is probably my most favorite. The fabric is divine and so soft and it's like being wrapped in the sweetest hug! Ahhhh. 
The checked muslin version bugs me because of not having enough fabric to match at the side seams. It's a great dress to throw on, feel comfortable and warm, and go chat with girlfriends.
The blue one is interesting to me, the fabric does not have as much stretch due to being a double faced ITY. You can see this in the pull lines at the side boob area. With the less stretch it feels more like a formal dress to me. Also the vertical wavy lines make for interesting optical effects.

I washed and dried all 3 on delicate before sewing up and after creation have been a red with cold delicate washed and line dried. It's nicer to these fabrics to keep them out of the drier.

So what are my likes and dislike of this pattern?
1. I did not have to make my normal pattern adjustments. Most notably my back closed wedge adjustment or as many people call it a sway back adjustment. I don't really have a sway back rather I have a big butt! Those with this trait have an issue with fabric pooling in the lower back just above the butt. 
2. The second adjustment I usually make on surplus dresses and tops of both wrap and mock wrap type is to shorten the front edge to eliminate gaping and to raise the cross area. I don't need super cleavage! I did NO pattern alterations. None at all!
3. I also love the depth of the wrap! No insecure feelings of uh-oh I'm gonna flash the world. It's a good thing! 

Dislikes: I really did not have any. I think you need to pay attention to the area where the ties meet the neck binding and make sure everything lines up or else it could look a little messy once you apply the neckline/tie piece. 

I have already worn these dresses several times! They were a perfect add to my wardrobe for the holidays! 
The blue one was worn to my ASG neighborhood group Holiday brunch and to a work recognition dinner. 
The black/grey one was worn to the opera and to my husbands work holiday party. 

I really love the fact that they can be dressed up or go more casual just with the change of accessories.

This pattern will be put away for a while. Thinking I may visit it in the late spring when I need a warm weather dress. I think it will be darling in short sleeves in a fun summery print!

Next up on the work table a sequin top for my birthday/NYE get together. I've never done much with sequins so this will be an experience!

Hugs from Princess Victoria! Hard to believe this little angel granddaughter of mine will be 18 months on Christmas Eve! 

Friday, December 11, 2015

A trip to Les Fabriques and a new top, McCall's 6963

I had a quick trip this week down to Fisherville, VA. Think southern Virginia right smack in the middle of the Blue Ridge Mountains. Beautiful area, stunning blue-grey mountains layered upon each other with a softness about them that you just don't get in the western US. 

My meeting finished up by 2pm and my flight home wasn't until 6:30. A little research was done as I grabbed a bite to eat that turned up an eclectic looking fabric shop in the town of Charlottesville, just a few miles from the little airport. Armed with my GPS and a couple hours to spare I headed to Les Fabriques. 

The store was comprised of a fabric shop with a great variety of specially curated fabrics. Think a little bit of everything with all of it being high quality. There was also a large selection of vintage patterns, think patterns that have been picked from garage sales and estate sales. Everything from vintage woman designer vogues to great 1950's children's pinafores. Rounding out the shop were a beautiful selection of notions and buttons, again quality was abound in all the products. 

At the end of the shop was a small resale shop area that had a great selection of clothes and handmade jewelry. 

The almost haphazard way the fabric was strewn on the periphery shelves was very charming and invited you to touch and pull out fabrics and pet and feel them. I took my time and took it all in, such a pleasure to have time to browse and peruse the goods. 

I ended up leaving with 2 cuts of fabric, how could I not?!?  After all, there was a 20% of everything in the store ale happening for the holidays! 
I purchased one yard of this mat bronze sequined fabric! So pretty... Maybe a new top for my birthday!
The second is a beautiful silk that was priced at 36$ a yard but since it was an end cut with only four yards left they gave it to me for 64$. The best part was, I had no idea that it was on sale! The colors and print and feel of the fabric just grabbed me. They had a roll in a purple color way as well but that one just looked a bit more harsh! 

Late last week I finished up a new top. Having been sick I needed to work on some comfortable and easy fitting projects and I kicked off on an unplanned knit fixation! I will get back to my previously scheduled works this week!

Along my diversion into knits I wanted to use this double faced 2 way stretch ITY knit. It has been marinating in my stash for a while and the fabric closet had spit it out for me to use! I had 3.5 yards enough for a dress (to yet be blogged) plus this top.

Last winter I made 2 versions of this top, one very similar to this one with a deep cowl and long sleeves but in a lightweight ponte and one with long sleeves and a higher shallower cowl out of a weird nylon double knit. I like the fact that even with the deeper cowl you can lean over, bend and pick things up and not necessarily flash all of you r boobs to everyone around you!

I like this top and I wanted long sleeves. Actually I wanted extra long sleeves, sometimes I like the feel of the fabric pooling slightly at my wrist. Especially in the winter! Looking at the photos the sleeves look a little long... And this is why I love to sew!!! I can make them exactly how I want them.

This top is multi purpose. I can wear it as shown in these pictures as a casual wear. I can also wear it belted with a cardigan over it with a skirt to make it business casual .  Good versatility! 

So when do you consider a pattern to be a t-n-t pattern? I have this pattern with all adjustments made so I can just pull it out sew away without much thought to fit. I think with knits you have a leeway of weight gain/loss before you have to reassess fit. Of course you always need to keep in mind the type and stretch of the knit. I used my tripod and wireless fob to take these pictures and being too lazy to check anything but the first picture for frame and focus I realized after I put everything away that the photos from the back look like crap. I didn't straighten out the top at pull it over my bum hence it looks a bit wonky.  Part of that has to do with my generous bum, if I want something to stay down over it all the time it needs to be more of a tunic length versus a top ending at the high hip. 

I think I need to write out a cue card checklist to keep with my camera setup. 
- smile, I always look so serious like I'm sending mental brainwaves to the camera to please work as intended!!
- straighten the clothes out
- stand up straight
- check all photos before changing outfits or putting all the camera crap away!

Happy Sewing!!!

Family day at the Field Museum! 

Friday, December 4, 2015

2 happy versions of Vogue 1336!

Vogue 1336 a super fun dress!!!

This dress started as my dress for the Chicago Haute Couture Club November challenge of Modernize your Mondrian. In this challenge we needed to update the look of the original YSL Mondrian dress and give it our own spin. The only stipulation was that it had to have the black lines and these could be done by any means that we wanted.

The black version of this dress started out as the muslin. However, I loved it so much that after I made my fitting changes I recut the pieces that needed to be changed and added the orange border and sleeves and just love this dress! 

Let me talk about how I decided to update the look of the original YSL Mondrian. 
- update the fabrics by going with rayon blend ponte knits
- updated the color palate from the original primary colors
- color placement to flatter my figure. Darker colors around the waist and hips with brighter colors at bust and face and bottom panel. 
- used narrow strips of black ponte as flat piping for updated narrow black strips. 

The pattern, vogue 1336, Is a Sandra Betzina Todays Fit pattern. It already included some of the pattern pieces for the color blocking. I just took it a step further. When I made the black muslin for fitting I used HBLs or horizontal balance lines to make sure that the dress was hanging properly on my frame. As suspected, I tuck a wedge tuck from the back and added an open wedge to the front. I also adjusted the side seams. I played with the idea of adding some sort of darts to the bust area but the way the sleeves and side seams were shaped it would have meant reengineering the entire pattern and then would lose the look I liked. Some I left it alone. I also changed the overall length of the pattern. Removing a total of 5 or 6 inches. This was done by shortening the overall length of the bottom panel. It just felt too long and the proportions were off to my eye. I also removed from length to the skirt front and back panels. These changes took the dress from looking like a big sack to something fun and fashionable! The new length makes it a perfect pairing with fall/winter boots! 

The orange infinity scarf I made last winter is a perfect addition to this outfit!

With the black ponte version muslin end and recut for a great dress I got to work on the color blocked version for then HCCC challenge. 

I used cross grain cuts of ponte cut at 1 3/4 inch strips which gave me 1/4" flat piping.  The biggest challenge was how was the piping going to work with all those seams??? I did a lot of samples and tests to see if it was going to be doable. 
In the end with a little work it all came together. In seams were piping crossed I made sure to trim out as much as possible, I used my server which amazingly went through all those layers like butter! And, as you can see in the photo above, I even took to a hammer to flatten down some of the seams. My dogs didn't particularly like that part! LOL!!

All in all I think it worked out fairly well. The seams are ever so slightly stiff when compared to the black version but nothing terrible. 

Some other ideas I played with for the black lines was to piece them. This would have required drafting an entirely new pattern. I also played with using a black jersey knit but it just felt more wonky to me. I was able to get very nice consistent seams using the ponte. 

The biggest version between the 2 dresses is on the back. The upper back panels on the black version all meet together. This was just a nightmare to try and do with the the piping! Too many layers!!! So I changed them so that they didn't all meet together. 
Details lightened up so you can see them!

This was a fun project and I will enjoy wearing the black version this winter. The color blocked will remain safely tucked in my closet until after the April Haute Couture Club of Chicago fashion show! With my luck I would spill something on it and ruin it and I don't want to remake it before the fashion show!

Happy Sewing! 

I'm looking forward to spending some time with my granddaughter this weekend! :) and maybe working on a couple of Appleton dresses... I couldn't make up my mind on which fabric, so I making two!