Cleo Skirt, Gemma Tank, Made By Rae Patterns, Pearl Shift, Sewing

Summer Sewing: June 2017

The view out of the window of my sewing room in the late afternoon. I am so lucky to have this little room of my own. Gemma Tank being finished below.June was a very busy month work-wise and I didn’t have as much time as I would like to sew but I had some projects that were almost done after Me Made May and so I used the time I could find to finish some Gemma Tanks and a Cleo Skirt. I am looking forward to mixing and matching these all summer.

I made a yellow lawn tank out of Robert Kaufman Cambridge Lawn in Maize. I made the scoop necked version in a Medium and lengthened it an inch or so. I applied the bias binding using the traditional method in which you see the binding because I didn’t want the shoulders to be too narrow.I originally planned to wear it with two Cleo skirts that I made in May with beautiful navy lawn fabric. but have found that it goes just as well or better with my striped cotton-linen blend skirt.I ended up having extra of the striped fabric and made another Gemma Tank. I love it. This fabric from Joanne’s was a great purchase. I know this will get a lot of wear year-round. It is perfect with white capris and jeans. 

I finished a Gemma Tank in April Rhodes fabric that I started last summer. I have already worn it several times. It is perfect with jeans and a mustard cardigan. Such a great print.I also finished another Gemma-Pearl Tunic. I absolutely love this shape. I will definitely be making more of these. This is in a beautiful tea-stained print by Cotton and Steel. I used scraps from a much loved Washi dress for the bias binding. I love how easy the Cotton and Steel fabric is to work with. You don’t even need pins. Seriously. Even bias binding is a pleasure with this fabric. I rest my case. This fabric makes me feel as though I can do no wrong. Not something I can say about all fabrics!
For a tutorial on how to make this tunic, check out this post. I finished a Cleo Skirt in a beautiful voile designed by Sharon Holland called Mudcloth. I can’t wait to wear this. I am finishing a black lawn Gemma Tank which I think will be perfect but the yellow works too. I am really happy with how versatile these tops and skirts are. I was wearing the first Cleo skirt that I made while I hand-sewed the front waistband.I love this Loominous Fabric by Anna Maria Horner. This has turned out to be a great hot weather outfit. The tank is one of the many Gemmas that I made last year.The blue and white striped tank and skirt are also great together. I didn’t plan them that way but when I had my pile of various projects on my ironing board I saw them together and realized that that would be another great outfit. I think I have reached the point where I have enough hand-sewn clothes to last for years to come. But fabric designers keep designing beautiful fabric so I will be continuing to sew. Next up is an Isla Dress using these beautiful new knits from April Rhodes. Who could resist?

 

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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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Made By Rae Patterns, Sewing

Loominous Bianca

The Bianca Pattern is one my favorite patterns. I have made many versions which you can see here. Anna Maria Horner’s Loominous fabrics are some of my favorite fabrics. I have made a Loominous Gemma and a Loominous Cleo. This Me Made May, I made a Loominous Bianca and it might be my favorite Bianca yet. This fabric was originally purchased because I thought it would be great as short sleeved shirt for my husband and I still think it would be but it didn’t speak to him. Lucky for me because it makes an awesome Bianca. I bought it from The Cloth Pocket which is one of my favorite fabric stores. I follow them on Instagram-their feed is outrageously funny- and shop from them online and last March,  I actually took a class there in person when I visited my son who lives in Austin. So fun. They have amazing class space and instructors. I think I will now plan all my trips to visit Steve to coincide with classes I want to take. Seriously. Anyhow, as I started to think about this version of the Bianca, I decided to try sewing it with the facing, per the pattern. I have made all of my others with a lined bodice, something I improvised based on the lined Washi dresses I have made. I usually use a contrasting lining so that a bit of it shows. I think it adds a cute detail. But I didn’t have anything that would work in this case that was the same weight and I wanted to really enjoy the lightweight fabric and a lining would have added bulk so I decided to use the Loominous for the facing as well. And then I had the idea to try sewing the facing on the outside which is explained as an option in the pattern directions, and then I had the idea to turn the facing on the bias as a design feature. I am not going to lie, it was a bit tricky, but I am thrilled with the results. This is before the elastic is added which gives the Bianca its shape.The trickiest part for me actually wasn’t the front bias facing, it was the back neck facing. I am not sure how I did this but it ended up being shorter than the neck on the dress and they didn’t line up. When I realized this was happening, I just folded the excess in the center of the back as I was sewing as if it was meant to be. It actually didn’t turn out badly, thankfully. 

One thing I wish I had done is to cut the pattern pieces out a bit more thoughtfully because I could have totally matched the stripes on the side. They are just a little off. I just didn’t think ahead when I cut out the pattern pieces. But I will definitely do it next time and there will definitely be a next time because I bought this fabric again in this grey and in the cream colorway. You can see in the picture below that I am just a little off matching the blue stripes at the bottom of the skirt. So close! This dress is a bit shorter than the other Bianca’s I have made- about an inch. I didn’t sew a hem facing as I normally do. I was in a hurry to finish it and be able to wear it so I just turned the hem up. I like the shorter length because my plan is to wear it with leggings and jeans but if I make it a second time, I will make it with a hem facing. I like the little bit of extra structure of the hem facing and I feel as though my dresses hang more nicely with that little bit of extra weight. But I am very happy with how this turned out. This was another dress sewn in a day. I sewed it pretty quickly although it did take a bit of time to sew the facing, especially since I was being careful not to stretch the fabric out of shape. Knowing now that I can manage the facing on the outside (and knowing that I have to check my measurements to figure out what I did wrong when I sewed the facing to have the size difference-probably a seam allowance situation) I will definitely be making this version again. I love that this little shift of putting the facing on the outside gives you so many design possibilities.I highly recommend the pattern and the fabric-a winning combination!

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Made By Rae Patterns, Sewing

Ikat Luna Pants

Last year I made 2 versions of the Luna Pants, a Made By Rae pattern. I am going to be honest and say that at first, I couldn’t imagine that this style was for me. I just didn’t think that they would be flattering. But then I kept seeing great versions on Instagram and I had to try the pattern for myself. I made both of the first two pairs in Art Gallery quilting cotton which is softer and lighter than most. I wear them all the time and have found that they are incredibly comfortable, surprisingly flattering and especially great for traveling.  They are my go-to airline attire.

One of the challenges I starting during May is to make a new version of each of my favorite patterns using somewhat nicer fabric than quilting cotton. I made several Cleo skirts using a lovely cotton lawn and a Gemma tank out of double gauze (both blogged in the same post) and for this version of Luna Pants I found a lovely lightweight loosely woven cotton.  I bought it at fabric.com where it is currently on sale. It would also make a great Cleo skirt or Gemma tank but I restrained myself and didn’t buy more even though I was tempted.img_2639I wasn’t sure which direction the design was supposed to go but my husband felt that the design looked like arrows and should point up so that is what I did. I have to be careful with this type of pattern because it is so subtle that it is easy for me to forget and cut one of the pieces the wrong direction. I made a size that is halfway between a Medium and a Large based on my measurements around the hips and then graded back down to a medium at the ankle. I made them quick quick quick. I did not sew french seams although I probably should have but I decided to just sew my seams as I usually do and finish them with a zig zag stitch which is my fast and easy technique. If I ever make these in double gauze it will be french seams all the way. I did make the pockets which are really well drafted the way that they are sewn into the waistband. Love them!img_4202I cut this out and sewed it in an afternoon and I don’t really have pictures of the process but my other Luna posts give more details. It is a very straightforward pattern. I did add 2 inches to the length because I had written a note on the pattern to do this based on the last time I made them but I didn’t end up needing all the length and trimmed it back to almost the standard length. Although I am 5′ 9.5″,  most of my height is in my torso. I wear a 31 or 32 inseam.  There are many pictures below of the finished pants as worn with my newly sewn double gauze Gemma. I had actually thought that a slightly cropped Gemma with a straight hem in the higher neckline version would be a good look with the pants but I wanted to wear them the same day I made them and I actually think this is fine. Such a comfortable outfit. img_4273I tried them with a slightly higher heeled clog for a more dressy look.img_4295-1My husband got much better at taking pictures as the days of Me Made May went by.img_4251They are great with my trusty 20 year old jeans jacket.img_4316And as I will usually wear them with flip flops and a cardigan.img_4370One funny thing happened as a sewed. I didn’t realize that I left a pin in where I couldn’t see it and I sewed it right into the seam. I ended up having to cut the thread to free the pin and resew that section of the seam.img_4206I realized that I was using the previously sewn pin later that month when I pinned another project.img_4752I highly recommend this pattern. It is even more wonderful in this softer loose weave fabric. I will be wearing them all summer.img_4250Also highly recommended is Rae’s Luna Pants Sewalong. I have learned so much from her posts and tutorials. It is a great way to make the pattern, a bit at a time.

Happy sewing!

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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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Gemma Tank, Made By Rae Patterns, Pearl Shift, Ruby Dress Pattern, Sewing, Washi Dress Pattern

Me Made May 2017

This is my third year of participating in Me Made May, in which home sewers/sewists from all over the world pledge to wear me-made garments all month long and most post them on social media. This year I decided to try to not only wear a garment that I had sewn each day but to try to wear something different each day-no repeats. I mostly succeeded. I did have one day when I didn’t post-although I had worn a handmade tunic that day, my mother in law was in the hospital, and a picture on social media was the furthest thing from my mind. I ended up with more than 31 posts because there were several days when  I wore a second outfit in the evening. I did have a couple of repeats and those were instructive. I wore my blue linen-cotton Gemma Tank, my newly made white double gauze Gemma Tank and my khaki Cali Faye Pocket Skirt more than once. They are the solid colored basics that I need to sew to fill in the gaps among all the patterns. Those will be things that I will sew this summer.

I wore what I normally wear but I did think more about planning something new for each day whereas I normally repeat easy to wear garments over and over again (such as my Isla dresses which I wore all winter.) It was actually fun to wear something new each day and to realize how many things I have sewn that I love to wear. This is really amazing considering that I only started sewing my own clothes a little over two years ago. I actually could probably go another 2 weeks without repeats. I have many beautiful summer dresses that I didn’t wear because May was really cold where I live in Connecticut. I will look forward to wearing them this summer when I warm up.

A blogger friend commented on my instagram that it looked as though I was doing an all Made By Rae Me Made May and it is true that hers are the patterns I use the most. I did though wear three Green Bee Pearl shifts that I have made and loved and my Pocket Skirt. I do think about sewing pattern from other pattern designers and even tried sewing a pattern for a knit shirt that I was really excited to wear-the Piper top by Christine Haynes-but then after sewing it (I didn’t make a muslin) the fit was way off. So I end up going back to the tried and true. It is amazing how a pattern can be made so many different ways that it doesn’t seem like the same dress. Just look at all the Washi’s in the pictures below. For more thoughts on sewing a handmade wardrobe using a couple of tried and true patterns, you can link to a post on that topic here.

I sewed several new garments this month: a Ruby dress, four Cleo skirts, several Gemma Tanks and a pair of Luna pants. I will blog about them later this month. My biggest project this month was finishing a hand quilted queen size quilt which is a gift. It took hours over many years and particularly this month but as of this writing, it is done except for a label which seems like a miracle. I decided not to spend time doing any blogging or reading of books this month in order to get it done and it is huge relief to have finished it and I look forward to sharing details after I give it to the recipients.

Here are my daily pictures basically grouped by week. I have included links to posts with details where possible. For people new to sewing, I would highly recommend the Made By Rae Beatrix Sewalong which is a series of blog posts that Rae Hoekstra created when she launched the Beatrix Blouse. I learned so much by sewing each step and following the instructions in her blog. My very first posts on this blog are from that sewalong and you can see my progress from there. The things I learned from that experience have stayed with me. I also highly recommend her tutorials and videos which I link to in my individual posts for each garment.

I am not sure if going forward I will post daily during Me Made May to the extent that I did this year. It did require a big commitment from my family members who got up early to take pictures. The first two days, I tried using a selfie stick and it really didn’t work. I just couldn’t smile and get a good picture without someone on the other side of the camera. I am really grateful to my daughter and my sweet husband who really got in the spirit and made 7 am photo sessions fun. He has been my champion, so supportive along this sewing journey. Couldn’t have done it without him!

Here are the outfits. I recommend all of the patterns you see here. They are terrific and any one would be a good place to start sewing.

Week 1 clockwise from the lower left hand corner: Washi XP , (that picture on day 1 was really dark. To get a better sense of this dress, just click on the Washi XP link to see better pictures in the blog post), a Gemma Tank and Cleo Skirt, Ruby Dress, Isla Dress, Pearl Shift, double gauze Ruby Blouse, Beatrix-Pearl Tunic and in the center: a new Gemma-Pearl Tunic which I just love. I have two more cut out and ready to sew. 

Week 2: Isla Dress, linen Pearl Shift, Cali Faye Pocket Skirt with a new Gemma Tank (Alison Glass fabric, to be blogged), Plaid Gemma Tank refashioned from a Goodwill men’s shirt, Gemma Tank, Washi Dress, Cleo Skirt and white double gauze Gemma Tank . In the center, one of my favorite pictures from the month: a Beatrix Tunic (picture on the beach in New London where I spent a couple of really nice days with my husband mid-month).

Week 3: Cleo Skirt (to be blogged), Washi Dress, Isla Dress, Washi Dress, Pearl Shift, Ruby Dress along with some bonus sewing room shots. 

Week 4: Gemma Tank, double gauze Washi Dress, Beatrix Tunic, Bianca Dress, Isla Dress, another Bianca Dress, a Gemma Tank and in the center, my new Luna Pants and double gauze Gemma Tank . You can link to another Luna Pants post here.

Week 5:  from the bottom left: Gemma Tank, double gauze Washi Dress, double gauze Ruby Blouse, Loominous Bianca dress, me with my photographer and a picture of some of my Cleo Skirts.

Bonus Pictures:  close up of my new Alison Glass Gemma Tank, some pictures of my new double gauze Gemma Tank which may be the most useful thing I made this month and some pictures I took on the days when I wore my Luna pants which are great sewing clothes. Two other Luna posts here and here.At about day 10, I almost stopped posting. I started to get a feeling of being a little overexposed. But I have been so inspired by other friends on instagram who post beautiful garments and who inspire me to try new things that I persevered and I am glad I did. It is wonderful to have this record of all of the beautiful clothes I have sewn and enjoy wearing and I heard from many people on instagram that my posts inspired them to try sewing these patterns and that really made it worth it.

Happy Sewing everyone and thanks for reading!

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