Bias Binding, Sewing

Tucks and Dots: my take on the Stylish Dress Book Dress E

img_6982These dotty little ladies are one of my favorite fabric designs from Cotton and Steel although there are so many wonderful designs that it is hard to choose. I bought several yards of this fabric knowing that I would definitely make a Gemma Tank top from this fabric at some point but the Dress E from the Stylish Dress Book has been on my radar for a long time and this fabric seemed to me to be perfectly suited to the style so yesterday I took the plunge.

Making this dress requires a commitment. First you have to buy the book, then you have to buy Swedish Tracing Paper in order to trace your pattern which is actually not for the faint of heart because multiple pattern pieces overly each other. It is doable but not necessarily easy. The pattern pieces do not include seam allowances, my bust size put me between size 10 and size 12 and most of the posts I had read about this dress said that it ran big. I didn’t know what to do. Of course I could have made a muslin which would be the smart thing to do but I decided to just plunge ahead. As it turns out, hem allowances are also not included in the pattern pieces, you have to add them. Needless to say, I didn’t realize this until after I had cut out my fabric. So although I thought I had been so smart to add 2 inches for my 5’9.5″ height, I actually hadn’t really because there was no hem included on the pattern to begin with. Yikes!

I also struggled a bit with the tucks especially since the front bodice seemed so wide despite taking about an inch out of it when I cut it out. I ended up just starting at one end of the bodice and sewing 1 inch tucks every 2 inches across the bodice which gave me 9 seams instead of the 5 that the pattern calls for. They are not completely centered but you really have to look closely to see. Amazingly, it worked out pretty well. I might even like it better than the original. I didn’t end up using the neck facing because with all my changes, I thought it probably wouldn’t work so I used my favorite bias binding (oxymoron alert) technique. I also used a hem facing, which had been my plan but in light of the extra short hem-less pattern piece, was now a necessity and used facings for the sleeves because I didn’t want them to be too short. I used one of the Cotton and Steel basics fabrics that I used for the bias binding of my Octopi Gemma Tanks. I also added an inch to the length of the back bodice and took about 3 inches out of the width of the back skirt. I could definitely cut out more width front and back. It is full! I think if I made this again, I might sew my tucks down one more inch to match the length of the back bodice since I have such a long torso and to control some of the volume. I actually would probably cut out some of the volume altogether. I cut a 12 with seam allowances for the sleeves and arm scythes and the shoulders were still tight even though the neck gapes a bit. It is my opinion that different pattern makers have different body types that they primarily design for and I am so spoiled making Made by Rae designs that almost always fit with perhaps a minor tiny tweak. So I think that I will try using the Josephine Pattern that I have had forever and never made and reverse the tucks and see if I can make something similar that fits better through the upper chest and shoulders for my swimmer’s shoulders and 5’9″ frame. Pictures of my work in process and finished dress below. Tucks and bias binding of neckline:img_6985Hem facing:img_6989Sleeve Facing:img_7002 and close up of finished sleeves: img_7001Finished Dress on Place of Honor (front door)-note the fullness:img_7003 Back of Dress (full, very full):img_7008 and as worn. Front: img_7083Side:img_7065and back: img_7043I think this ended up being one stylish dress! img_7089

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Bias Binding, Made By Rae Patterns, Ruby Dress Pattern, Sewing

Morning Walk Ruby Dress

I have loved this beautiful Leah Duncan print for a long time and I finally took the plunge and bought the voile version of the fabric. I debated whether to get the quilting cotton or the voile but at the end of the day, decided that the voile would make a nicer feeling, better draping dress. I made the Ruby with the lined yoke as I have previously done here, here, here and here. The Ruby is a great project. It is uncomplicated but the details are pretty, I always enjoy sewing it and this was no exception. I sewed the lined yoke using the Made by Rae sausage technique.I find the little bit of bias binding to be pretty easy since you are just sewing half of the armhole. Wonder clips work really well here. It is so satisfying when the bias binding turns out well. Here is the finished dress hanging on my front door which is my summertime place for pictures of new makes.And as worn to church during Me Made May. I will say that as much as I love this print, once I finished the dress, I realized that it is really very busy and might be better in a smaller dose so I may wear this as a dress this summer and then shorten it to a blouse at the end of the summer. I definitely like it better with a cardigan which breaks up the print. But I love this for a summer work dress. It is lightweight and floaty. I also enjoyed working with this lightweight fabric and am now inspired to make some Rubies in blouse length with some of the beautiful new lighter weight fabrics that are available now. I especially love these. This is a great summer pattern. I highly recommend it!

 

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Bias Binding, Gemma Tank, Made By Rae Patterns, Pearl Shift, Sewing

Gemma meets Pearl

img_2673-1I had been wanting to try making a Gemma Tank lengthened to a tunic length since last summer when I made a lined voile dress version of the Gemma seen here. For the dress version, I followed Rae’s tutorial and made it with a curved hem. This May I decided to blend the Gemma with the Pearl Shift pattern which works for me in a tunic length so I literally taped the pattern pieces together. This is pretty much the most low-tech mash-up you will ever see but it worked really well and I love the finished garment. I used this great pink and navy bandana fabric from Cotton and Steel. I was inspired to buy this print when I saw a great sleeveless version of the Pearl Shift using this fabric made by Alexia Abegg (who designed both the pattern and the fabric) which is pretty close to what I have made here.

I cut a medium scooped neck Gemma and for the Pearl, I used my much used pattern pieces which I long-ago tapered from about the high waist down to the hem from the Small to the extra Small line on the front pattern piece and from the Medium to part way between the Medium and Small cutting lines for the back. I made these adjustments when I first made the Pearl pattern. I found that the pattern if made as directed was a bit big and the skirt sort of winged out to the sides a bit too much for me. It was sort of a triangular shape. I am bigger in the back than in the front so I tapered the front a lot and back a bit and these adjustments have given me a nice fit that I have used for all my Pearls after the first one.

I literally used one piece of tape to join the pattern pieces so that I could un-tape the pieces after cutting out the tunic. The back pieces seen below lined up perfectly. and the front. I lined the pieces up at the center fold and in the front, because the Pearl is wider, I folded down the top of the Pearl pattern and cut on the Gemma cutting lines to just below the bust dart line:I then took folded away the bottom of the Gemma and used the Pearl cutting lines as a guide, joining the two lines. I then moved away the pattern pieces and used my rotary cutter to make sure I had a nice smooth seam line. 

xxI was using 2 yard pieces of fabric so I basically lined things up to maximize the length and make two equally long pieces. It worked out to be just the right length. One thing I do every time I make a Gemma is to shift the pattern just a tiny bit when I cut the neck as a sort of hollow chest adjustment so it doesn’t gape. Also quite low tech. I shift the pattern piece back after cutting the neckline and cut the rest normally.Once cut out it was like sewing any Gemma. It all came together nicely. I stay-stitched around the neck and armholes. I  used some pink cotton lawn to bind the neck and armholes and for a hem facing.I used this method. And after a quick couple of hours, I was in business. This is the perfect after work attire. I love it with leggings, jeans or on its own for hanging around the house. Finished garment from the back on the front door place of honor.And as worn from the side.  It is just loose enough. Comfortable without gaping.From the back:And from the front as worn with jeans. Make this! You will be glad you did. 

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Bias Binding, Gemma Tank, Made By Rae Patterns, Sewing

2017 Me Made May Makes Part 1: Four Cleo Skirts and Two Gemma Tanks

This past May, I set myself a challenge to make several skirts using the Made By Rae Cleo skirt pattern. I had already made three versions so I knew that the fit was perfect and the construction relatively simple and I wanted to experiment with different fabrics. I fell in love with two beautiful cotton lawn fabrics from the Aria collection by Kelly Ventura. This fabric is called Brushed Peony and it is still available. I also decided to make a couple of new Gemma Tanks in solid colors to go with the skirts. I chose a Cambridge yellow lawn to go with these two skirts.img_2182I cut Mediums in both the skirt and tank and added a bit to the length for the tank as I am tall. I don’t actually lengthen the pattern, I just eyeball it and add about an inch to an inch and a half. I cut view B of the Cleo shortened to just below the midpoint of the knee which I find is the best length for me.img_0052-1In preparation for the bias binding, I cut bias strips of the leftover lawn and also some wider strips on the grain to use as a hem facing for the two skirts.img_0206-1Both fabrics were great to work with. Not too slippery but very light and flowy. To save time since I was planning on making several skirts, I eliminated the pocket. I actually love the pockets on the Cleo skirt but since I almost always wear a lab coat at my job as a nurse practitioner, I never use skirt pockets since I have large built in pockets already. I wouldn’t recommend this for most sewists because the pockets are a great design feature.img_2183Since I was making more than one, I basically sewed each step and then repeated the step on the next skirt, etc. They came together pretty quickly. Finished skirt #1 below in Brushed Peony.img_2644-1And as worn on the last day of Me Made May. I had been waiting to finish the yellow tank top to wear with it but alas, it is still awaiting the bias binding which is generally the fate of most of the Gemma tanks I have sewn. My sewing room becomes a Gemma Tank way station until I have the time to sew that last step. I had finished my new white double gauze Gemma, however, and it goes with everything, as seen below.img_4925The second skirt is another print from that same line. I might love it even more. I did the same thing, no pockets and yellow hem facing using the same strips.  img_2671-1And as worn on day 2 of Me Made May with a cotton-linen blend Gemma Tank that I made last year. It also goes with everything. img_0252-1Some pictures of the hem binding process below. This is my go-to approach to binding. It is quick and I love the look of the contrasting hem facing. I also find that having the seam that joins the hem and the hem facing as my guide enables me to have a nice even hem. Every aspect of the hem is machine-sewn so very quick.img_0209

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img_0214I hadn’t planned to make the Cleo below but I happened on this fabric at Joanne on sale and really liked it. I wasn’t sure at first what to make with it and considered making a new Bianca Dress but in the end, I decided I loved the striped fabric for a skirt. img_2640-1I used a lightweight white cotton batiste for this hem facing and matched the stripes on the side seams. I cut the waistband across the grain for more visual interest as I did when  I made this Loominous Cleo. I ended up with extra fabric since I had bought 4 yards and cut a Gemma Tank as well thinking that it would be great with jeans. It wasn’t until after I was sewing and had both projects laying out on my ironing board that it occurred to me that I could also try wearing them together to create a dress out of separates. I also found that when I had the yellow bias strips next to the skirt that the grey and yellow looked great together. I am dying to see how all of these skirts and tops mix and match. I just need to finish the bias binding on the Gemmas (story of my life!) Some process pictures below. I used french seams for the Tank because I expect this fabric to fray. I plan to use the white batiste for the bias binding as well using this method. While I was making the grey striped Gemma, I also cut out and actually finished a Gemma from white double gauze which I love and have worn several times. I used the batiste for the bias binding and to face the hem. It might be my favorite garment that I made this month. It is certainly the most versatile. You can see the striped skirt and the white double gauze Gemma in action below. They work well together. I like the crinkly look of the double gauze with the linen-y look of the striped fabric.

The fourth Cleo skirt that I made this month is this green and cream skirt which was inspired by a Ruby Dress posted on Instagram. I really loved the old fashioned feel of the fabric. I wore it this month with my blue Gemma but I know the white double gauze Gemma will be great with it and I am looking forward to trying other combinations. I have a black lawn Gemma that is all sewn and ready to go and just needs the bias binding. (a theme). So finishing the tanks will be my focus this month.img_2654I did actually finish a Gemma Tank that had been mostly finished since last summer (just needed the bias binding). Ironically, when the yellow bias strips were on my ironing board, they were also right next to this Allison Glass Gemmaimg_0086-1 and I realized that the yellow would make a great contrasting binding for this tank so I finished it img_0087-1and wore it on a quick visit to New London with my husband.

I am actually glad I didn’t finish it last summer because I might not have thought to use the yellow and I am really happy with it!img_3077-1 I love this tank with my khaki Pocket Skirt and with denim and white jeans. I know it will get a lot of wear. I made several other garments in May and will be posting details over the next several weeks. And now I have so many new ideas after seeing the beautiful hand sewn garments that were posted by fellow sewists all last month. So much fun. Thanks for reading!

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Bias Binding, Made By Rae Patterns, Sewing, Washi Dress Pattern

Snowday Sewday: WashiXP and Fringe Cleo Skirt

It snowed in Connecticut this week and the highways were closed. A perfect day to finish some sewing projects! I finished a Washi XP and a Cleo Skirt.The Washi XP is an expansion pack that enables you to make more versions of the Made By Rae Washi Pattern. It gives you many options for customizing your dress. I made the sleeveless version with a big bow. I had cut this dress out last summer when I wanted to use the fabric to bind this baby quilt and had to cut the dress out first to make sure I had enough left for the binding. And then it sat as WIPs tend to do. The Cleo Skirt below was planned from the minute Rae announced that she would be releasing a skirt pattern. I bought this Fringe fabric when I saw the great skirts that April made in both a child and adult version. But while I waited for the skirt pattern to be released (and it was worth the wait) I thought about how great this fabric would be for a pair of Luna Pants (which I sewed last summer) and I ended up buying more for the skirt. I am not sorry.Because this is quilting cotton, it is a bit poofier than say, voile or double gauze. But I have decided to embrace the poof. I love this skirt!It is great right now with boots and tights and it is going to be great this summer with a black tank top. Or this blue Gemma I made last summer that goes with everything. I used another fabric from April Rhodes as a hem facing.I used 3 inch strips. I find this is easier and gives me a nicer finish than a traditional hem. It is also more fun.Dress hanging on the front door before hemming and before I sewed the waistband down on the inside of the front waist. I hand sewed the front part because stitching in the ditch with all those gathers made me a bit nervous. Hand sewing was fast and I was happy with the results.This was a quick sew and the quilting cotton was really easy to work with. Next up, I have versions planned in voile. Pocket in process below. Rae’s instructions are really clear.Next up was the WashiXP. This is not much more work than the regular Washi. I love this fabric from Cotton and Steel. It is quilting cotton but a bit heavier in feel and it drapes really nicely. I have made several dresses with Cotton and Steel quilting cotton that I wear all winter with leggings and a sweater. In this version, the front bodice is in two pieces that are then sewn together to enable you to attach the ties for the bow.This fabric was also really easy to work with, a great thing for the first time you sew a pattern. I also have some Cotton and Steel rayon that I have planned for this pattern but I wanted to sew it first using a fabric that would cooperate.Again the step by step directions are easy to follow.This version of the Washi uses elastic with a casing instead of shirring with elastic thread although you could do either. I ended up machine basting the casing from the wrong side so I could be sure to line it up correctly and then used the basting stitches to guide me when I sewed it in place from the right side. This worked really well for me and was pretty quick.I hand basted the last part of the collar sewing where you sew in the ditch from the right side of the fabric. This kept the collar in place and enabled me to iron it well before sewing so I got a nice result.Here is the dress before I sewed the bias binding on to the armholes. The fit is spot on and I love the bow. Selfie arms below.I decided to use some of the last of my Cotton and Steel floral lawn for the armholes. I love this fabric. One of my favorites. I have a sleeveless Beatrix Blouse cut out of this ready to sew for summer. I need another snowday!It makes the binding so much more enjoyable when you love the fabric. I love the pops of color.Especially the mustard and olive green.I like to turn my binding under so just a hint of the binding fabric shows. I spent a lot of time sewing bias binding last summer when I sewed many Gemma tanks and this is my favorite binding method.Inside of dress below with collar.Finished dress in hallway picture (front door pictures don’t work in blizzards.)Inside view. I didn’t have enough of the floral for the hem so I used a Cotton and Steel lawn in a pink color that harmonizes with the floral.And as worn. Yes it was cold but worth it for the photo. These are both great patterns and I have many more versions planned for spring which is supposed to be here in just five days! 

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Bias Binding, Gemma Tank, Made By Rae Patterns, Maine, Pearl Shift, Quilting, Reading and Books, Ruby Dress Pattern, Sewing, unplugged, Washi Dress Pattern

Nursebeansews a lot: 2016 year-end wrap up

I sewed a lot of garments in 2016, close to 40-I have lost track of the actual total. Most of them were for me, some were for others. When I looked back over the year, I found that although I sewed many garments, I actually made several versions each of seven favorite patterns: the Pearl Shift pattern from Green Bee Patterns and six patterns from Made by Rae: the Washi Dress, the Beatrix Blouse, and the Ruby Blouse which I had made before and the Luna Pants pattern , the Isla knit dress pattern and the Gemma Tank which were new to me in 2016. The newer patterns are from a line that Rae calls Presto patterns. They are less expensive and simpler to sew, which is probably why I was able to sew so many! Here are a couple of pictures of some of my makes with links to the patterns and my blog posts about things I learned while making them. I tend to make things in multiples because it is not much more work to cut out two versions than to cut out one.

The Washi Dress by Made By Rae, which I made for myself three times: two versions had sleeves and two versions were in double gauze. I also made a version with polka dots for my sister and a paisley version for my mother. The double gauze, while a bit tricky to work with, makes a wonderful winter version of the Washi. I have my eye out for another double gauze to make another long sleeved version of the Washi. I wear my charm version all the time.img_4434I have two more  Washi dresses cut out that I plan to finish soon. One is the Washi XP with a bow. I cut them out last summer before Gemma Madness took over my sewing life. Finishing my WIPs will be a priority for me this winter.img_2414I am excited to see how the XP version turns out. I think it will be perfect with a sweater and tights and boots for winter. I cut this out way back in the spring when I made a baby quilt for a friend and used this for the binding.

I also sewed several new versions of the Beatrix blouse and modified a shift dress pattern by adding Beatrix sleeves.img_4435I lengthened the Beatrix to a tunic length using the Pearl Shift pattern as my guide and made this Cookie Book version with a curved hem and this Alison Glass version with an exposed zipper and a straight hem. I wear them all the time with leggings and jeans.

I made the Pearl Shift four times: two in heavy cotton flannel and one each in a cotton-linen blend and in a black and white checked fabric. img_4436I have two more cut out and ready to sew, one for my daughter and another plaid flannel version for me. The original plaid Pearl that I made a year ago in the fall is probably my most worn garment ever.

I surprised myself this year by making pants! I highly recommend the Luna Pants pattern from Made By Rae. I made this clay colored version and this Fringe version, both with fabric by April Rhodes. I lived in them all summer.img_4437 I was surprised at how flattering they ended up being and they are incredibly comfortable.

I made three versions of the Ruby Pattern this summer, a plum colored double gauze blouse for me, a double gauze blouse with a yoke made of quilting cotton for a friend and a dress which I love in April Rhodes fabric. I just love her designs for garments.img_4439I have several other versions of the Ruby blouse cut out and ready to sew. Sew all the WIPs is going to be my resolution for 2017!

I learned a bit about how to sew knits on a regular sewing machine and made one each of the dress and top versions of the Isla Pattern. img_4440I have several more cut out and ready for an afternoon when I can sew them up. I highly recommend this pattern for those of you who are new to sewing knits.

The pattern I sewed the most though turned out to be the Gemma Tank. Rae launched this pattern over the summer and once she did, all my other WIPs went by the wayside. I literally have things I cut out to sew back in July that never got sewn because I was too busy sewing so many versions of the Gemma. I lined it, I lengthened it, I sewed it for my kids, I sewed many versions for myself. I sewed it out of thrifted men’s shirts and I learned a lot about bias binding. It was a lot of fun, a bit crazy but a great way to experiment with different fabrics. I am wearing them all the time. It has become a great layering piece for me. These are actually not even all of the Gemmas I made. Craziness!img_4438Other non-garment items I sewed this year were this quilt for a much awaited new baby boy-so much fun! and an afghan for my mother in law made from thrift shop sweaters. I also was privileged to be a pattern tester for the first time for this great skirt pattern which will be launched in the new year. I have fabric picked out and ready to go.  It is going to be a great new basic to add to my rotation.

Highlights of my sewing year included Me Made May-which is always fun and which brings so much inspiration from other sewers and a couple of mini-breaks (long weekends,) one in Maine and one at home and a micro-mini break (afternoon) that I spent exploring my old neighborhood. I also read a lot this year and tried very hard to stick to my 2016 New Year’s resolution to commit one day a week to being unplugged. That worked for about half the year and then life got busy and  I ended up having to spend time each Sunday in the office. But I tried to spend at least some of each Sunday unplugged from media, reading, taking walks,, going to church regularly and doing yoga. These are things I hope to find more time for in the New Year.

With best wishes to all for a happy and healthy New Year and time and energy to finish the sewing projects (I know that I can’t cut out one more thing until I sew through the pile I have accumulated of cut out projects, ) and thanks to all for following along with my sewing adventures!
 

 

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Bias Binding, Gemma Tank, Made By Rae Patterns, Sewing

Checkers Gemma

Most of the Made By Rae Gemma Tanks I have been making over the last several weeks have been from fabrics in my stash. I have had a great time trying this pattern with many different types of fabrics as you can see in my previous posts. This fabric, however, I purchased with this pattern and the Pearl Shift in mind. I cut both out last week and today, I had time to finish binding the Gemma in this black and white Checkers fabric by Cotton and Steel. It is a woven, medium weight cotton. I decided to use the large check print since I thought it would be a great basic to layer with different colored sweaters. I cut between the medium and small lines on the pattern and added an inch in length.I did add a bit of extra seam allowance because I planned to finish the edges using my variation of the french binding technique.I used scraps of the white cotton batiste fabric that I used for the lining of my Gemma dress to bind this tank. The armhole binding below.I bound the seam of the hem the same way.The inside of the hem binding.Finished tank on the front door.Back of blouse.Porch pictures courtesy of my daughter. Front.Side.Back.Ready for Halloween with a cardigan.Side. view. Great pattern + great fabric! This is going to get a lot of wear.

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