It is almost Easter and in that spirit I did a bit of sewing last week.I made a teeny tiny dress.A friend at work had a baby last week, a little girl. This gave me a great excuse to sew something tiny and cute. The pattern is a free pattern literally called the Itty Bitty Baby Dress from Rae Hoekstra available for download from her site. It is really small and I even sized it up a bit. It is designed to fit a 3 month old as sewn. My children are all grown. One forgets how small new babies are!I love the little birds. This fabric is cute but not cutesy which I love. My sewing wasn’t perfect but it really didn’t matter in the end.I made this little dress from fabric left over from a Ruby dress that I made and love. The fabric is Tokyo Trees from Cloud 9 fabrics. I bought it online at HoneyBeGood which has a great selection of organic fabrics. The lining fabric was a fat quarter I had purchased from The Cloth Pocket. It is still available at various stores. The fabric is from a collection called Boardwalk Delight by Art Gallery Fabrics. I couldn’t resist the sprinkles. (below before I hand sewed the bodice lining) I love the rabbit ear shape the ties make. The curves are very small by the way which is a bit of a challenge-sew slowly 🙂In preparation for grandparenting which I hope to not be too far off-maybe 2 or 3 years?- I had already purchased the Geranium and Flashback Tee patterns when Rae had a pattern sale earlier this year. I love the many variations of those patterns (especially this one which reminds me of outfits my girls wore when they were little) and look forward to sewing them in the future. But this little pattern has no buttons or zippers so I thought I would try it as I was sewing last minute the day before the shower-as I do. It didn’t disappoint. I simplified it a bit, eliminating the piping in the interest of time and I created a hem facing the same way I always do, only smaller.It is pretty foolproof and quick.One challenge was not having a small enough hanger to properly show off the finished product. I tried to improvise. I am not sure I am doing it justice in this photo.I sewed everything by machine except for the last seam where I hand sewed the bodice lining. You could probably do that by machine as well but I don’t trust myself with the tiny gathers. It doesn’t take long.I enjoy hand sewing and it is quicker to hand sew once than to machine sew and have to redo it.Some more construction pictures below. Hem facing. Attaching bodice.Such quick little seams to sew.One lesson learned, it you want to topstitch around the neck and armholes, wait until after you attach the front and back bodice pieces together. Ask me how I know that? I got a little ahead of myself. But it all worked out in the end.
I don’t have all of April Rhodes’ fabrics but I have many and have used them to make some garments I really love such as a Washi dress with sleeves, this Ruby dress, two pairs of Luna Pants, a Gemma Tank and a Cleo skirt. I am so happy with the green Washi with sleeves that I made with the beautiful fabric below and this navy Ruby dress and Gemma tank made in the other colorway of the green fabric, both of which I made and wore last summer.
I actually bought extra yardage of the green and navy fabrics as back-up for when I wear the dresses out which I consider good planning. Although the fabric is quilting cotton and relatively inexpensive, it is easy to work with and the feel of the fabric is very soft and lends itself to garments you want to wear. I first bought the fabric below from the Arizona line because I liked the geometric design and I thought it would make a good Beatrix blouse but when Rae came out with the Cleo Pattern, I thought it would be fun to see how the pattern worked with gathers. I think it is great as a skirt.I sewed this at the same time that I sewed my Fringe Cleo as I have found it is not a lot more work to make two of a garment than one. I sewed the hem with my machine using a hem facing, as I do. I used a lightweight white cotton batiste to face the hem because I thought the black lines might show through the white of the fabric if I just turned the hem up using the patterned fabric.I used three inch strips. Details of this hemming method in my prior Cleo posts. It is my go-to, quick method and it works well for me.I sewed the back of the waistband on the machine as directed but sewed the last bit of the front waistband by hand. I get nervous sewing in the ditch when the fabric is gathered and prefer to finish that last bit by hand. I used the batiste for the pocket as well. There is something so satisfying about a crisply ironed finished pocket. Rae’s instructions are very clear and the skirt is relatively easy to construct but is very polished looking when sewn. It makes me want to sew all the skirts!Here in Connecticut it is technically spring but not quite the weather for this skirt but soon! I have some white double gauze and I am thinking that a sleeveless Josephine blouse would be great with this skirt. It is on my (very long and growing) to be sewn list.
My blog is not monetized and I derive no benefit if you click on the links. I provide links to resources that I find helpful and I hope you do too. Happy sewing!
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!
I was lucky to have the chance to test Rae Hoekstra‘s new skirt pattern the Cleo. I have had so many skirt ideas but didn’t have a pattern I loved so I had been waiting for this one for some time. I have loved all the checked and striped versions that Rae has made and when I saw this beautiful fabric from the Loominous line by Anna Maria Horner, I knew it would be perfect. I love the stripey, checked feeling of the fabric and the different patterns within patterns that are going on in the weave. I have also been loving yellow and blue lately.The biggest decision for me when thinking about skirts is the length. The floral skirt below is the unhemmed View B that I sewed as a pattern tester and I think it is just about the right length. Rae subsequently added several inches to View B for the final Cleo pattern but since most of my height is in my torso, I am happy with the shorter length. I made my Loominous Cleo 1.5 inches longer than my test skirt to allow for the hem. I ended up finishing the hem with a facing so I probably didn’t need the extra inch.
I loved this contrasting yellow woven fabric from the same fabric line (Loominous 2) and decided to use it on the inside of the waistband and to face the hem. It gave the waistband a bit more structure to construct it this way. In cutting the pattern pieces, I decided to cut the main skirt pieces perpendicular to the grain to have the stripes feel more horizontal than vertical. I cut the waist band with the grain in order to give it some contrast (also possibly more slimming? Hard to tell.) I am really happy with the way it turned out. Waistband in process below.
Inside of waistband close-up with under stitching seen below.
I cut the pockets with the grain because that made the best use of the fabric I had left after cutting the main pieces. One could also cut contrasting pockets but I only had a half a yard of the yellow.I under stitched along the seam where the pockets are sewn to the skirt. I love the juxtaposition of the shapes and stripes.
I finished my seams with a simple zig zag stitch. I bought a serger this fall but haven’t yet had the time to figure it out. One of my 2017 goals!
Picture of the inside of the waistband after inserting elastic below. This was a quick skirt in a day sew.
Hem facing being sewn below. I use the seam line as a visual guide when I fold up the hem facing. I used 3 inch strips.
The 3 inch strips enable me to sew my hems using the edge of the metal plate on my sewing machine as a visual guide to line up the bottom edge of the skirt. Hem facing below. I added a label as an afterthought right next to the side seam-I had already sewn the rest of the waistband when I thought to do it- because the colors match pretty well. This is the inside of the skirt after being washed and not ironed so a bit wrinkled.
I was on my way out the door to work but I had my husband take a couple of pictures. I had washed the skirt and it is a bit rumpled but you can get a feel for the fit. That is a Gemma tank that I am wearing with it which is a great combination for summer.I took the pictures with ankle high boots but switched boots after I saw the pictures. I decided that I like the skirt with taller boots or sandals given the length of the skirt. I probably will make the skirt an inch shorter next time but I am overall very happy with it. It will be perfect for spring and summer months. I have plans for several more Cleo’s in this voile, this lawn and this chambray and have this great fabric by April Rhodes cut out and ready to sew. I sewed a Medium although my measurements put me between a Medium and a Large. The skirt is relatively full and I am happy with the fit. I didn’t make any other adjustments other than sewing it in a shorter length. The fabric is from The Cloth Pocket, which is a wonderful store to visit in person or online. I basically want to buy everything they stock. I highly recommend this pattern and can’t wait to make more!
It is hard to believe that it was only two years ago that I sewed my first me-made garment, a Made By Rae Washi dress. Since that time I have sewn so many Washi dresses for myself, my daughter, my sister and my mom as well as many other dresses, tops, pants and now skirts.
This week we had a storm in the Northeast. It wasn’t enough to cause a huge disruption in our lives-we didn’t lose power or have trees down and because we knew the storm was coming I planned ahead to stay home and take a vacation day from work since clinic was closed and our patients were rescheduled. It was the perfect snow day.
I took advantage of the day to do a little sewing. I have had two plaid flannel Pearl shifts cut out since before Christmas, one for my daughter and one for me. The only tricky part of this pattern is inserting the zipper so inserted the zipper on the purple Pearl destined for my daughter (I only had to unpick it once) and then, since I had already loaded the machine with a deep teal thread, I decided to sew a up the teal double gauze Ruby blouse that I cut out last July (!)I tend to cut projects out way before I actually sew them, often because I want to use the fabric for more than one project. It works best for me if I lay out the pattern pieces for both projects at the same time so I can be sure to cut the pattern pieces in such a way as to have enough for both projects. In this case, I had used the teal for the pockets and waist facing for my Fringe Luna Pants so I cut the Ruby pieces at the same time. I had originally thought I would sew it last summer but then Rae released the Gemma Tank pattern and Gemma Madness ensued.
I made my first double gauze Ruby last summer, a plum version. I have been wearing that blouse more now in the winter than I did last summer-it is one of my most-worn me-made garments. See below after many washes and wears. I made it using Rae’s sausage technique for lining the bodice. See this post about a favorite Ruby Dress for a detailed illustration with links. Both the bodice lining (a floral lawn that is one of my favorite fabrics) and the pink double gauze fabrics are from Cotton and Steel. It is the perfect layering piece under a cardigan and I tend to wear it with an olive green or grey cardigan with dark jeans. Add a necklace and it is a comfortable, flattering look for winter on those work days when I don’t see patients and am just catching up on paperwork. I have probably worn my pink Ruby over 20 times since I made it last summer. It just gets softer and softer and I can wear it right out of the dryer-no need to iron. I originally purchased the teal fabric online on sale from Fabric.com. It is also Cotton and Steel double gauze and it is called Indigo. I actually thought it was going to be navy which I thought would be a great basic and when it came in the mail, I wasn’t sure if I was going to like the teal as much as the navy but then I thought of how great it would be with my mustard cardigan. So when I had an unexpected snow day this week, I decided sewing up this Ruby would be the perfect way to spend it.
The Ruby Blouse by Made by Rae is a relatively simple sewing project but lining the bodice elevates it to a more polished garment and makes it more fun because you can choose a fun fabric to use for the lining which only requires a fat quarter of fabric. I looked through my ever-growing stash and found a fat quarter of a beautiful floral quilting cotton from the Cotton and Steel Cat Lady collection. No cats in sight on this fabric, at least that I could see, but I love the colors and how it works with the teal. I have used the sausage technique so many times on my many Washi dresses and Ruby dresses and blouses that I didn’t need to refer to the videos but they are awesome.I did look back at the videos briefly to remind me how to do the bias binding on the lower armholes. I use a 1.5 inch strip rather than 1.25 inches. I do find that part a bit tricky with double gauze but a couple of hand stitches on the inside of the blouse fixed the areas that my machine stitching missed. Before sewing the sausage I generally topstitch around the neck. I used matching thread. I machine wash my garments and it seems as though that extra stitching gives the neckline a bit more stability and strength. The sausage technique leaves two seams on the inside of the blouse that require hand stitching. I actually enjoy hand stitching so I enjoyed this part of the project. I was able to sew the entire blouse in an afternoon and wear it to work the next day without rushing or cutting corners. It is sometimes very relaxing to just enjoy the process and make something beautiful without worrying about how long it takes. I even had time to make home-made soup for dinner after I finished sewing. I often make what I call “refrigerator soup” where I look in the refrigerator and see what I have and make it into soup. A couple of weeks ago, I had half a butternut squash, a sweet potato and some carrots and I ended up making soup with some sautéed onions, chicken broth, fresh ginger and a little curry for seasoning. It was fantastic so today I made it on purpose. “Vitamin A Soup” below. I think the bright orange and yellow color speaks to me in the dark days of winter. I have been drawn to oranges and yellows all winter. I have made several Isla Dresses in these colors and am very partial to this one below which I recently wore to NYC for a birthday celebration with my mother with whom I share a birthday. What are the odds of that?I am also loving this book which coincidentally has an orange cover and have this fabric on order from my favorite fabric shop with plans to make this skirt. So many things to look forward to on this snow day! Winter has its consolations. Finished Ruby blouse below. I know it will be worn and worn. I highly recommend this pattern in double gauze. It is worth the bit of extra effort.
I have just completed a month of sewing knits and I am feeling much more confident in my ability to sew a knit garment successfully. I love the Isla Pattern from Made By Rae as evidenced by all the Isla dresses I have sewn. I was not as happy about the fit with the tops because of my long torso or as my Dad used to say, it just didn’t seem to suit my style of beauty, at least when I made it with the same adjustments I made to my Isla dresses. But after giving it some thought, I felt I owed it to the pattern to give it another chance adjusting the bodice to have it hit at my natural waist and see if I liked that version better.
I am 5’9″ and all my height is in my torso. I wear inseam 31-32 for my jeans. I took a picture with a measuring tape for anyone out there with this body type planning to make this pattern (wearing another Isla dress I recently sewed). From the bottom of my neck to my natural waist is 16 inches. I had previously had my daughter take pictures of me wearing my Isla dresses with my hands at my waist and using that as a guide, I added 4 inches in length to the Medium bodice which I had already added an inch to so 5 inches in total.I also added a bit of width and smoothed out the curve on the side to see if it would help with the riding up of the top that I had with the others I have made. Here is the front.Here is the bodice as sewn.I cut the ruffle using the regular medium cutting line because I had added so much to the length of the bodice that I didn’t want it to end up as a tunic but I wasn’t sure if I would like the top with such a disparity between the bodice and the ruffle. I think it is cutest when they are more in balance size-wise but I figured the only way to find out was to try it. Luckily, this fabric was easy to work with, gathered easily and the whole project took only a couple of hours start to finish. I took pictures of the finished bodice prior to attaching the ruffle with the measuring tape to show the length.And a second picture to remind me that I took a picture of the back not the front of the bodice. I use these pictures as a reference when I make a pattern a second time. It is easier for me to remember adjustments I made than writing them down.And here are the photos of the finished garment. as worn. Somewhat forced smile because my daughter is saying: Smile, Stand up Straight, Shoulders back, Belly in. I thought I had lined up my pearl necklaces when I cut the ruffle but as you can see, I have a bit of a diagonal thing going on here which was not intentional. It is a little more tricky to line up the circles with the knit than the woven which I used to make a Washi dress that I love and wear all the time in Spring and Summer.I also had an issue with the hem rolling up which I don’t seem to have with the dress version-thinking maybe it is the lighter weight of the fabric piece. Side view.BackSo overall I would say that for my body, I am happier with the Isla as a dress. In fact I may end up cutting off the ruffle and adding the dress length skirt to this and make it into a dress for myself or my daughter at some point. The top is so cute on many people but I don’t think that it works for me well enough to continue to make it. I love the dresses and will wear them all the time I am sure. As for tops, I have so many to choose from after my summer of Gemma Madness. In fact, today, I wore this beauty in Macrame fabric which you can learn more about here.Now it is back to woven fabric and on to the Cleo skirt pattern which was released today. Can you believe how beautiful this one is?
I have been sewing many versions of the Isla Pattern by Made By Rae since it was released. This is my first real success with sewing knits, partly because the pattern is pretty easy to follow and incorporates pretty foolproof techniques and partly because I gathered up the collective wisdom of the sewing community and put their tips to work. Link here to my first post which contains the aforementioned wisdom and links.
I tend to make multiples of the same pattern. It usually takes a couple of tries to get it right. Then, once I master the pattern, it is much easier to sew the second and third versions-I have all the pattern pieces, supplies and machine settings all ready to go, so it seems like the efficient thing to do. In the case of the Isla Pattern, I knew that I wanted to sew a couple more versions after being very happy with my first one. I planned to make two dresses and two tops, one each in yellow and blue.I ordered the fabric and efficiently I thought, cut out the pattern pieces in an evening. I used the adjustments that I made to my first version which added an inch to the bodice length. I chose 2 yellow/mustard fabrics, one for a top and one for a dress and a second two blue fabrics with the same plan. I also wanted a neutral top so I decided to sew one in a cream color. I like patterns that evoke stripes without being completely traditional and I loved this fabric from Art Gallery Knits which I thought would be perfect, so I sewed it first. It is a really soft nice feeling knit and it sewed up beautifully. I added an inch to the length of the ruffle as well. Here is the finished top. Cute, right? I was happy with how nicely the stripes worked with the neck and arm bands.Then I tried it on and I was not thrilled. I have a very long torso and so even after adding the extra inch, this hit me way above my natural waist. It didn’t bother me with the dress because it draped nicely but the top didn’t work as well for my shape. Here are some pictures. It’s not terrible but not great and when I wear it, it feels as though it keeps riding up which doesn’t happen with my dress versions. I just didn’t think about the fact that the torso adjustment might be different for the top vs the dress. So for those of you with long torsos, take heed!
If you had told me years ago that I would willingly post less than flattering pictures of myself, I wouldn’t have believed it. For a long time, I stayed out of most pictures, often because I was taking the pictures but also because I was way too worried about taking an unflattering picture. I have to say that being over 50 and being a nurse really changed my point of view. Just having a healthy body feels like a gift. And I so appreciate other sewing pals posting real-life pictures that help me decide if a pattern is right for me. I also love what Allison writes here. It is a must read for all moms. Anyway back to the pictures. Not terrible but not great. The side view shows that I probably could have used another 2 or 3 inches. BackSometimes being too efficient ends up being a problem because I now had already cut out all my pattern pieces and I knew that those that had been destined for tops would not end up being garments I loved. So I ended up buying another yard each of the two fabrics I had intended for tops. I used the bodice pieces I had already cut and cut the dress length skirt pieces out of the extra yard and have saved the top length skirt pieces for another project. So now I have 2 blue dresses and 2 mustard dresses. With leggings, boots and a cardigan, I am all set for the week. Just to show you how long my waist is, I had my daughter take pictures of my first Isla, which has one inch added to the bodice length and one of the second batch of Islas that has 2 inches added to the bodice length with me putting my hands at my natural waist.Yes that is really where my waist is. Here is version two with 2 inches added to the bodice.I can’t actually say I like one better than the other. I think that they are both fine. Word to the wise, make sure whatever you add to the bodice, you subtract from the skirt so you end up with the right length. I think the Isla is most flattering above the knee. I actually am not sure that adding the extra length to the bodice really makes a difference for the dress. I know that some people don’t like the high waist style but I find it skims right over my midsection which I like. I think if I try the top again, I will add enough to the bodice to actually have it hit my waist. That would be a lot of inches.
Here is another top version that I made from fabric in my stash. This is a slightly heavier weight cotton and I think it drapes well. This isn’t long enough either but its cute! I haven’t hemmed it and I am not sure if I will because I need the length. Here it is on. I love the fun print. I think the top would be fine a bit longer.Sewing this many versions gave me the chance to figure out which techniques I prefer for the arm and neck bands. I ended up following Rae’s directions for the arm bands but stretched a bit more as I sewed. I don’t pin. I ended up using about 1 inch less than the band as cut. This gave me a nice fit. I sewed a narrow zig zag along the seam.This gives it a nice finish. I used a double needle for one of my tops and I don’t think I love it that much more than the zig zag, which is so much quicker. For the neckband, I tried the technique in the pattern which has you sew just one shoulder and then add the neck band and then join the second shoulder and neck band as a unit. I found for me that I ended up with a bit of bulk so I used Erin’s approach but started with the neck band cut the length specified in the pattern and then stretched a bit more than the pattern would have you do because I had gaping with my first Isla and I generally have to do a hollow chest adjustment with my other MBR tops. I ended up using about 1-1.5 inches less than the neckband length specified in the pattern but it worked for me. Here are the finished dresses. All the fabric is from Hawthorne Threads which has a great selection of knits.
And as worn and in action (whirlwind photo sessions with my husband was more like dress as modern art.)The wrinkles in the shoulders above are due to my poor posture, not the pattern. Growing up my dad used to tell me to put my shoulders back and now my daughter does. This one might be my favorite. It was supposed to be a top with jeans because I thought the bunnies might be too childlike but it makes a great dress. Just be careful when you cut out the neck band to not cut the bunnies in half as I did at first. I cut a new neckband when I noticed my mistake.This pattern is a quick sew that makes a flattering, comfortable, cute dress that doesn’t need ironing and looks great under a labcoat. What could be better?I think I have now gotten sewing with knits out of my system for a while and am ready to take the walking foot off the machine, switch the needles and get ready to sew with wovens again. There is a great new skirt pattern that is just about to be released and I can’t wait. Here is the version I sewed when I tested the pattern. I have some beautiful fabrics lined up to sew a couple of versions, just in time for spring. But in the meantime, my Isla capsule wardrobe will be just the thing to get me through the winter.