Reeta

Reeta

Reeta_cropI’m a complete sucker for gold these days. When I saw this viscose poplin from Fabrications I knew I had to make it into a dress and after my success with Named’s Helmi, their Reeta shirt dress was the top contender. I love a midi length skirt and a cinched waist, so away I went.

Construction was, well, not the easiest but it came out okay. I stay-stitched the neckline and armholes of the yoke pieces and, unlike others, didn’t have any issues with the collar (maybe the fact that the viscose can stretch a bit?) although I had to unpick a couple of spots. I also managed to completely miss the instructions to sew a box pleat on the front pockets so I hand-sewed them shut.

The part that absolutely flummoxed me was the front facing and hem: my front facings were 1-1/4″ shorter than the dress front pieces, so pressing to the right side by 3/4″ didn’t do me much good. Even after reading the hemming instructions a couple of times I couldn’t sort out how that would remedy itself, so I just gave up and winged it. I ended up hemming 1-1/2″ on the front and 2″ on the back so they’d line up at the side slits.

20181013_171938
It’s out of focus but the hemline on the right is where I just gave up and made the length equal, neatness be damned!

The way the waist tie works – sewing a ribbon around the inside of the waistline – is brilliant and an easy mod I could add to other patterns. I also added side pockets, with the tops 2″ below the side notch. I was excited about this but the pockets actually create more bulk at the widest part of my hips so I’m not entirely convinced I’ll keep them. I’ve pressed them flat as best I can but it’s still not completely ideal. They’re great (pockets!) but they puff the dress out an inch or so on each side at the *exact* wrong spot.

Others have noted that this dress is quite long: I’m 5’9″ and I’d take an inch off the length next time. It is also a bit snug across my back where the yoke attaches and to the bottom of the armhole but it’s manageable – and encourages good posture – but I’ll adjust it if I make another. I’ll also pay more attention when I’m cutting out the yokes, as I inadvertently have the same 4″ portion of the fabric’s floral design directly above itself.

Reeta_yoke_duplicate
Oops! 🤷

Despite some construction frustrations, I really like this dress and have even received a few compliments on it from strangers (!).

Alterations

  • Graded from a 10 at bust to 14 at hip
  • Added pockets (used pocket pattern piece from Charlie Caftan)

Next time:

  • Follow the instructions for the box pleat on the front pockets, ha
  • If I add side pockets, move up to 1″ below side notch
  • Add 1/4″ on both sides of the yoke at the arm hole, grading to nothing at the shoulder
  • Also add 1/4″ on both sides of the dress (front and back pieces) at the arm hole, grading to nothing an inch or two below the arm hole
  • Shorten by an inch
Advertisements
Charlie Caftan #2

Charlie Caftan #2

20180808_191006_crop
In hindsight, posing in a floral dress in front of flowers may not have been ideal.

Summers in Ottawa are hot and humid (this summer especially so) and the last couple of years I’ve really gravitated toward long, work-appropriate dresses. However, I have found my wardrobe lacking in that area so a long swishy dress was in order and the Charlie Caftan from Closet Case Patterns was a perfect fit.

The fabric is a navy floral polyester crepe from Blackbird Fabrics and while it was a bit slippery to work with, it is lovely to wear. It’s also so dark that it reads as black – in fact, I used black thread and I need to look really closely to even notice that it’s not a perfect match.

20180808_191101_crop

I made view C with the higher arms (seen in views A & B) to reduce workplace bra exposure. I also made the inset panel using the instructions and this helpful sewalong from Closet Case Patterns, and thank goodness I used a patterned fabric because the corners are far from perfect but nobody will ever notice!

I finished this dress almost two months ago, have worn it regularly, and have received a surprising number of compliments from friends and strangers. It’s so light, swishy, and cool, and the pockets are wonderfully deep. It washes easily (delicate cycle), air dries quickly, and never needs an iron. In other words, it’s a perfect hot weather dress.

20180808_191010_crop

Alterations:

  • Raised neckline 1/2″
  • Higher arm variation
  • Graded from 8 to 14 between waist and hip

What I might do differently next time:

  • Raise the inset panel/shorten the bodice about 1.5″
  • Add 2″ to the total length as it hits above my ankle (I’m 5’9″ and the pattern is made for someone 5’6″, so that makes sense)
  • I could do with a little more fabric in the back so may grade out to a 16 instead of 14 on the back piece
Helmi tunic

Helmi tunic

Helmi_crop1_resize
Summer is almost here and this Helmi is perfect for it.

Have you ever had the experience of making or purchasing an item of clothing that you’re not entirely sure about and then, to your surprise, it becomes your favourite thing in your closet? That’s how it’s been with this Named Helmi tunic dress: I had some frustrations making it and when I first tried it on, but after wearing it twice I am loving it immensely.

What I love:

  • OH MAN the cotton (blend?) rayon fabric is perfect for a summer dress. So swishy and light without being sheer
  • I specifically chose fabric with a pattern because it would hide the waist seam which is a touch too low for my taste, and it worked brilliantly
  • I really dig the covered button band and collar stand
  • …and the sleeves, which are beautifully loose and I’m a huge fan of the 3/4 length
  • It looks great with a belt – pink and navy is one of my all-time favourite colour combos
Helmi_crop2_resize
No idea what I’m doing here but I really like how long my legs look in this photo.

What I didn’t love:

  • The 3/8″ seam allowance meant the seams were hell to finish without a serger. Flat felling the seams was no joke and I bailed on the sleeve seams because I’m not a masochist (just zigzagged the edges and sewed them flat after pressing toward the bodice). I French seamed the skirt halves together.
  • It looks like a man’s nightshirt without a belt, which is fine in and of itself but isn’t particularly flattering on me
Helmi_unbelted
Belt wrinkles!

Let it be noted that the frustrations I had while making the dress were soon forgotten upon wearing it. It is SO COMFY, and this random rayon from Fabricland that I got for $10/metre is perfection with this pattern. It’s floaty and weightless and I’ll see how it stands up to lots of wear this summer.

Helmi_front

Adjustments:

  • Graded skirt from US size 10 to 14 from waist to just above hip line
  • Lengthened skirt by 3″
  • If I make it again, I might raise the waistline by an inch or two and do the bodice in US size 8 and grade to a 12 from waist to hip
  • I may add belt loops but so far I’ve managed without them

Overall, I am ecstatic about this make and am looking forward to tackling the Named Reeta soon.

Granville shirt

Granville shirt

Granville_FrontI made a shirt. A SHIRT. With a collar and cuffs and buttonholes. And it actually fits!!

Let’s back up for a moment: I have a flannel shirt problem. I love flannel shirts so much that I live in them every weekend in the cooler months and wear them like cardigans in the summertime. Thing is, none of them fit quite right regardless of size: either the sleeves are a bit too short and the bust is a bit too tight, or the shoulders are a bit wide and the fit is more relaxed than I’d prefer, and as an individual with a long torso they’re all a bit short in the body. I’ve wanted to make – and perfect – my own flannel shirt pattern for a couple of years and finally got down to it this winter.

When I say “finally got down to it this winter” I mean “I’ve had Sewaholic’s Granville shirt pattern for at least two, maybe three, years so I should just tackle the darn thing.”

Granville_back
You can see where the fabric is loose near my tailbone, which I’m hoping to solve next time.

Was I intimidated? Yes. Have I ever made a garment with buttonholes, sleeves, a collar, or cuffs? Nope, none of those, but you have to start somewhere right?

The fabric is some squishy, robust Robert Kaufman mammoth flannel from Fabrications that was pretty easy to pattern match, although I kept getting mixed up about which side of the fabric was the right side since they look identical except the plaid pattern is obviously reversed. That made for a few interesting moments during assembly when I had to triple-check that all the major pieces had the pattern facing the same way – I kept muttering “turquoise top right” under my breath. In the end, it turned out well except my buttons are on the “wrong” side for a woman’s shirt. Minor issue, although I will admit to being confused during cutting about whether the “left side” of the front piece meant when a person is wearing it or when a person is looking at someone wearing it. #overthinker

One particularly interesting moment was when I was uncharacteristically forward-thinking and laid the front pieces down and lined them up, only to discover that the pattern matching was off. It was mercifully easily solved by snipping about 1/2″ off the top of one piece and the bottom of the other.

Granville_askew
OH NOOOOOOOOO
Granville_fixable
Phew!

Pattern details/adjustments:

  • cut a size 12 based on measurements and it was pretty bang-on
  • didn’t lengthen it as there was a healthy hem allowance although I didn’t need to minimize it in the end
  • pinched out about 4″ in the centre back and ended up taking it out of the side pieces in the back, ultimately grading from a 12 to an 8 at the hip on the outside edge. I left the centre back piece as-is for this version but will take out about 1.5″ (0.75″ on each side) in future iterations. These two adjustments were directly informed by this blog post by Hilary Rose
  • like Hilary Rose, I noticed that the flare at the bottom was too much so I took each front piece in an inch on the outside edge, grading to nothing about 3.5″ from the bottom
  • the next time I make this pattern, I’ll bring the shoulders in 3/4″ on each side, shorten the sleeves 1″, and raise the front pockets about an inch
Granville_patternadjustments
The orange line on the centre back piece is from when I was going to make all the adjustments there, but I transferred most of it to the side pieces.

The construction came together easily, even the collar and cuffs. The instructions were very clear and I consulted sewalongs when I had any doubts. I got discernibly better at edgestitching since I flat felled all the inside seams, although finishing the inside armhole seams was super tricky so thank goodness it was one of the final steps!

Granville_edgestitching
Edgestitching

I will admit that the scariest part was at the very end when I made the buttonholes. I don’t know why they terrified me so much but I was sweating bullets despite sewing a handful of practice ones on scrap fabric. Eep.

This is, without a doubt, the make I’m most proud of. It’s the first time I’ve approached such a challenging project with so many elements I’ve never tried before, but I made a point of going slow and steady and it turned out wonderfully. I have a tendency to give myself arbitrary deadlines – I’ll make this in a weekend! It’ll be done by May! – but I didn’t do that this time and very much enjoyed the process. Lesson learned, especially as it made me excited to get back to sewing more frequently again.

Charlie Caftan

Charlie Caftan

DSC00753_small

Closet Case Patterns always seems to come out with perfectly-timed fashionable patterns and this spring was no exception. While I really liked the Kalle shirtdress, once I saw the Charlie caftan I knew I’d have to make one. Ottawa summers can be hot and humid for weeks on end and I’ve been gravitating more toward loose dresses the last couple of years, so it was a perfect match.

While I have a fair amount of fabric in my stash, I was so fixated on skirts a couple of years ago that I never purchased more than 1.5-2m of anything and even the shortest Charlie option calls for 2.5m. I purchased a red and white floral cotton/spandex blend from Darrell Thomas Textiles that is crisp and light, and it sewed up beautifully.

Now, View A is not the kind of style I typically wear. Most of the dresses in my closet – self-made and otherwise – are fitted to the waist and then flare out. This is primarily due to being two very different sizes on my lower and upper halves, so if a shift dress gets over my butt then my torso is invariably swimming it it. I decided to go out on a bit of a stylistic limb here since I knew I could grade the pattern so it wouldn’t look like I was wearing a giant sack, and I’m loving the final product! It’s just roomy enough in the hips while not huge around my shoulders and chest and is effortless to wear. I’m psyched about it!

DSC00762_small
Unrelatedly, I love this hat.

Pattern adjustments:

  • Graded from 14 at hips to 8 at sleeves, which basically made a straight line from hem to sleeve. I did the size 14 pleats.
  • Cut front piece on fold (accommodating for the 5/8″ seam allowance) to save hassle of pattern matching on the centre front seam, which turned out perfectly
  • Selected the narrower sleeve option
  • Added 2″ to length
  • Used Coco’s Loft’s method for the front panel which worked like a dream
  • French seams throughout because they’re awesome (and I don’t have a serger), even if they take more time and pressing
20170722_112250_small
French seams

I’m glad I followed Coco Loft’s inset panel instructions as it was far easier to do than the original directions, despite the detailed tutorial on the Closet Case Patterns blog. Word of warning though, it resulted in a topstitched panel instead of an inset one. I’d suggest reading Coco’s post but, in brief, once the pleats were folded, I held everything in place on the wrong side with interfacing, placed and pinned the right side panel (with a slightly larger folded down edge) followed by the wrong side panel, making a sort of “pleat sandwich.” I stitched on the right side and caught the edge of the back side panel. Apart from extra attention paid to the pinning before sewing, it was a breeze.

20170722_112355_small
Topstitched panel

I’m looking forward to making a second longer Charlie caftan, although at my usual rate it may not be for another year! 🙂

Sallie Maxi Dress

Sallie Maxi Dress

Hey guess what! I made a dress!

Sallie_04a

Not one of the projects I had planned back in March, mind you, but still the first sewing project I’ve finished in, um, a long while. And I love it!

It’s the Sallie Jumpsuit & Maxi Dress pattern by Closet Case Files out of Montreal. I’d been eyeing it ever since it was released a year or so ago, especially the versions of the dress with the kimono top. Let me tell ya though: it took some creative pattern arranging and every last inch of the 2.5m of fabric to cut that baby out.

Sallie_pattern01
The top pieces juuust fit after I cut out the skirt. Especially once I figured out I need to cut out two of each plus pockets.

I cut size 12 in the kimono top and 16 for the skirt. I didn’t bother grading at the waist since it would be elasticized and the print is busy enough that it’s impossible to notice a few extra tucks, but next time I might because it did make for some slightly finicky pinning at the waist. I also added 3″ to the bottom of the skirt since the pattern was designed for someone 5’6″ and I’m 5’9″, but I ended up trimming 2.5″ of it and having a 1.5″ hem (versus the 1″ called for in the pattern) so I needn’t have bothered, as you can see in the mediocre selfie below.

Sallie_01a
It’s definitely long enough!

The fabric (95% polyester/5% spandex) is from Darrell Thomas Textiles and is both gorgeous and fantastic to work with. It’s somehow light to wear but has a nice weight, never got caught on pins, and is one of those dream fabrics that presses well but can be jammed in the corner of a suitcase or at the bottom of a gym bag and emerge without a rumple. Hell yeah! I’m half tempted to buy a bolt and be all “BEHOLD, I AM SWATHED IN THE FABRIC OF THE HEAVENS,” then consequently get banished from the staff lunch room because I won’t stop yelling about handfeel.

Anyhoo, once I eked out the pieces it came together easily. I got a bit hung up on sewing the arm openings together when had to pick out a couple of seams where they all joined at the armpit to make it reasonably smooth, and I couldn’t manage to press the inside seams entirely flat. I’d probably add another 1/8″-1/4″ to the elastic channel step on the top since it was a squeeze to get the elastic through in a couple of spots, but I’m a rookie at sewing knits so a bit of extra room for error is nice to have. The specs for medium and narrow zigzag stitches at the beginning of the instructions were very useful and prevented frantic Googling, as I did the whole thing on a sewing machine.

Ultimately this dress is sexy (I freaking love the back ties), feels like pajamas, looks great (multiple compliments when I wore it to work), and can be whipped up in an afternoon. Here’s hoping it brings my sewing mojo back.

Sallie_02a
Back ties! ❤
Spring sewing projects

Spring sewing projects

This is where I get unrealistically ambitious, do some sewing but not what I thought I’d do, and then feel badly about it in a few months when I remember that this list exists.

Who cares about future guilt though, right? Onward!

1. Dress for my cousin’s wedding

One of my cousins is getting married in early June and I am determined to make my own dress for the event. I have the following criteria:

  1. Fit & flare (this style works well for me so why mess with what’s proven, even though I love this look)
  2. Scoop back
  3. Midi length or just below the knee

Inspiration:

I am a complete sucker for that bright red/purple/orange colour combination, gah!

2. Do something with the black linen I bought

I bought 1.6m of soft black linen at a trunk sale a few weeks ago and I want to do something with it before it languishes too long. While the summers here can get hot and humid and lovely versions of the Named Inari Tee pattern are all over the place, no-waist shapes aren’t terribly flattering on me. Instead, I imagine I’d wear the heck out of something like these:

I’ve bookmarked the Liesl & Co Gallery Tunic & Dress because it looks doable (no buttons!) but still has a similar look – and I can add a belt. Or maybe I should just give the Inari Tee a go? Decisions, decisions.

3. Finish my pants muslin & pattern

I took a pants making class in November which was fantastic and included alterations for a perfect fit. I need to finish my current muslin (version 3) and get it fitted again, if necessary. This is a JUST DO IT ALREADY item.

4. Work on perfect pencil skirt pattern

I wear the heck out of my favourite pencil skirt even though it’s not quite perfect: proportionally, my waist is small and my hips/butt are larger so I get a lot of gaping at the waist with both pants and fitted skirts. I want to be able to churn out well-fitting pencil skirts like nobody’s business. Like #3, this is a JUST DO IT ALREADY thing because sitting down and trying yet another pencil skirt version is not my idea of fun. However, it’s in the pursuit of something I’ve wanted to achieve for years so now might as well be the time.

Inspiration:

So there we have it: 4 things that would appear doable in the next 2-3 months. Let’s see what I can do.