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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Cleo Skirt, Made By Rae Patterns, Sewing

Made By Rae Cleo Summer Showcase: So Many Skirts

cleo summer showcase (ig)

I am thrilled to be part of the Made By Rae Cleo Summer Showcase and to be able to share the many skirts I have made with the Made By Rae Cleo pattern. The Cleo is like all of the MBR patterns: beautifully drafted to be flattering and comfortable with clear directions that are really well illustrated. Rae’s patterns really are wonderful and are the foundation of my handmade wardrobe.

This is my most recent Cleo skirt. It is made with a beautiful voile by Sharon Holland. I also made an Isla Knit Dress in the blue colorway of the same fabric. The design really spoke to me.Here it is worn with a black double gauze MBR Gemma Tank left untucked and blowing in the breeze:
and with the same Gemma Tank tucked in with clogs: and with a yellow lawn Gemma Tank:and with a black lawn Gemma Tank a different pair of sandals:and with my newly sewn Piper Top:It would also be great with my new black Rumi Tank top which you will see further down the post. 😊

My voile Cleo Skirt might just be my favorite but it is hard to choose because I have made so many others. The Cleo is also great in cotton lawn. Here are two versions I made with beautiful fabric from the Juniper collection by Kelly Ventura. Version 1:img_2644-1Version 2: img_2671-1I couldn’t decide which fabric to buy so I bought them both and I love both skirts. This fabric is lightweight and swishy. It was easy to sew with. It drapes beautifully. I am a total fan. img_0252-1They are both perfect with my blue cotton-linen Gemma and my newly sewn white double gauze Gemma and with any  number of colors of cardigans but I especially like this floral version with my orange cardigan. img_4925My yellow lawn Gemma Tank also works well with these skirts. img_6337I used scraps of the yellow for a facing for the hems for all three of my voile and lawn Cleos. The hem facing gives me a visual guide for where to fold the fabric and gives me more accurate results. I also just love the look of the contrasting hem.img_0214The Cleo is also great in lightweight woven fabrics. I made this version with a woven cotton-linen blend from Joanne Fabric. I also made a matching Gemma Tank which I love although I like them better worn separately.I used a white lightweight cotton batiste for the hem facing and bias binding.This skirt is perfect with my double gauze Gemma or with the yellow lawn Gemma. I ended up making this skirt about one inch shorter than the others because I ended up trimming some fabric from the skirt to line up the stripes.The Gemma top is perfect with just about anything but here it is with white jeans. Here they are together. Maybe a little too many stripes although I wore them with the top untucked once and liked them that way.I was inspired by Rae’s beautiful version to sew a Cleo in this great fabric from Anna Maria Horner’s Loominous II fabric line. It is so nice to wear. Really soft and lightweight. img_5226 I have really enjoyed wearing it this summer. It is perfect for hot summer days. This is a bit rumpled right out of the dryer and I don’t even care.img_5453-2I also sewed several versions of the Cleo in quilting cotton. I saw a beautiful Ruby dress on Instagram made with lime green fabric  by Heather Bailey and it inspired me to sew this Cleo. This fabric was a pleasure to sew with.  It is a bit poofier than the voile but I love the 50’s feel of this skirt.It is great with my new black knit Piper top.  One of the first Cleos I sewed was this one in April Rhodes’ Fringe fabric inspired by child and adult versions she made and posted on her Instagram. It is a nice lightweight quilting cotton that makes a great skirt. I love it with my blue, white and black Gemmas and it is perfect with boots and tights in winter.
I really love this fabric. It also makes a great pair of Luna Pants.I recently made the Rumi knit tank top by Christine Haynes and I love it with this skirt and flip flops for  summer. Front view: Back view: I enjoy experimenting with designs and patterns and I had this fabric in my stash. It is from the Arizona collection also from April Rhodes. I had fun sewing this skirt and seeing how this pattern looks with the gathers. This fabric is now available in a new colorway which would also be great.Again with the white double gauze Gemma. Such a perfect piece for mixing and matching.And here is my original tester Cleo. It fit really well without any real adjustments. I was so honored to be included as a tester for this pattern. It is absolutely amazing to me to have started sewing for myself two years ago and to now have an entirely Me Made wardrobe and to have had the opportunity to test a pattern for Made By Rae. Amazing!

I am 5’9 1/2″ tall and average build but most of my height is in my torso so I generally don’t need to add length to skirts. My measurements put me right between a Medium and a Large and I cut between those lines to make my tester version but as the skirt is pretty full, I have made the rest of them in a straight Medium and I am very happy with the fit.

When I made the test version, I loved the length as it was unhemmed and thought it was perfect for me. Rae ended up lengthening View B in the final version of the pattern but I keep sewing mine using my unhemmed tester pattern length. I started sewing hem facings because I didn’t want to have to figure out how much to add to end up with the same perfect length. So my skirts are all based on the skirt pattern piece unhemmed length of 23 inches less about 3/8 inch for the seam allowance for my hem facing.

I ended up giving my tester version to my beautiful daughter who had the perfect shoes to match. Here she is during a recent visit to Connecticut.And here she is in a Cleo action shot back in the Midwest. I have a navy cotton lawn version in the works for her in this great Ninepin lawn from Cotton and Steel. I may make version A which is a bit shorter and has great pockets,The Cleo would also be amazing in this double gauze and this rayon.  I think a longer rayon Cleo with boots would be perfect for fall. And the double gauze version Rae made is so beautiful it is tempting to make one just like it. You can see how one can easily be inspired to make So Many Skirts!

I have really loved sewing this pattern and highly recommend it.

Links to my other Cleo posts below and to all of the wonderful participants in the Cleo Showcase. Be sure to check them out and be inspired.

Nursebean Cleo Posts:

I have sewn many versions of most of the MBR patterns. You can link to some of them here:

Cleo Showcase Instagram and Blog Links:

july 31

vicky / @sewvee / sewvee.blogspot.co.uk

erin / @hungiegungie / hungiegungie.com

natalie / @sewhungryhippie / hungryhippie sews

teri / @teridodds1 / fa sew la

august 1

tori / @thedoingthingsblog / thedoingthingsblog.com

lindsay / @lindsayinstitches

meredith / @thefooshe / oliviajanehandcrafted.com/blog

kate / @kate.english

august 2

melissa / @ahappystitch / ahappystitch.com

julie / @nursebean82 / nursebeansews.wordpress.com

lauren / @laurenddesign / laurendurrdesign.com

august 3

fleurine / @mariefleurine / sewmariefleur.com

bettina / @stahlarbeit / stahlarbeit.ch

allie / @indie_sew / indiesew.com/blog

darci / @darcialexis / darcisews.com

emily / @mycraftylittleself / mycraftylittleself.blogspot.com

august 4

whitney / @whitneydeal / whitney-deal.com/blog

sienna  /@notaprimarycolor

amy nicole / @amynicolestudio / amynicolestudio.com

kim / @pitykitty

kten / @jinxandgunner / jinxandgunner.blogspot.com

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Made By Rae Patterns, Sewing

Summer Islas

img_5563A little more than two years ago, I started sewing my own clothes and last fall, I took the plunge into knits. I lived all winter long in my Isla Capsule Wardrobe and this summer, I decided to sew some more versions in some floral fabrics in a slightly longer length in light of bare legs vs leggings. I had picked out a beautiful purple floral by Pat Bravo, the beautiful green floral from Rae Hoekstra’s Sidewalk Fabric line and the blue-green colorway of Amy Butler’s Glow knit which I scooped up when it was on sale, having been really happy with the fabric when I sewed the grey colorway as one of my first Isla tops. img_4549-1And as worn here: img_4585This would seem to be plenty: 3 summer dresses. And then, April Rhodes’ amazing new fabric line was released and I was inspired to make one more. I alternate my sewing methods. Sometimes I sew my clothes in batches of the same pattern in different versions. This was one of those times, especially since I switch not only the needle and thread type when sewing knits but also the sewing machine foot (I always use a walking foot).img_5555 Other than adding an inch to the length of the skirt (which I neglected to do for the Glow version, I am not sure why) I followed exactly the same methods I used for my first batch of Isla’s which was to use all the tricks that my Instagram friends shared with me and which can be found in this post, This is the first time I have sewn contrasting neck and arm binding and I am really happy with this combination. img_5558And as worn: img_5614Next up I made the Sidewalk fabric version. I knew it would be good because I had seen Rae’s version which inspired me. img_5884This fabric is really nice to work with and I am so happy with how this version turned out.img_5906And as worn:img_6318Next I sewed the Indie Boheme version. This fabric feels very summery to me. I almost bought it in voile to make Rae’s Josephine blouse with gathers. That pattern has been on my To-Be-Sewn list for quite some time and I love her new Loominous II version. img_5675And as worn:img_5873The Amy Butler version is a bit shorter which came in handy when we recently had a heatwave. I didn’t think I cut it differently but I must have.img_5908 This fabric is a bit heavier than the others. It is really easy to sew with and would be great for someone new to knits.img_6369And that would have been it, except that Erin made two beautiful maxi versions of the Isla and I saw another version of a knit maxi dress on Instagram that was not the Isla but which used a blue and white shibori-inspired print. That is when it clicked for me and I decided to take the plunge. I found this bamboo-rayon knit and ordered it on a Monday. It arrived on a Friday. I  literally got home from work, washed the fabric, cut the fabric, sewed the fabric. I added about 20 inches to the length of the skirt. I added about 6 inches to the width of the back skirt and none to the front. The fabric was a bit slippery and a bit tricky to cut. I was in a bit of a panic for a minute because I had some trouble lining it up correctly to cut the skirt pieces out after having cut out the bodice but it all worked out in the end. I wore it to a family wedding that next day and I plan to wear it until I wear it out.img_6391 It is amazingly comfortable, flattering and doesn’t wrinkle.img_6386Perfect for a trip to someplace amazing. Now all I need are airplane tickets. Mr. NB, take note! And it is even better with my mustard cardigan, as most of my dresses are.img_6403One of my favorite winter Islas did get some wear time this summer on one of our cooler days. Here it is with leggings and sneakers. I can’t recommend this pattern more highly!img_5938

 

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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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