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 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.I 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.I 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.I 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. I 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. 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.I 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. I 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!Other 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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I can’t talk about creating a Handmade Wardrobe without talking about the Washi Dress pattern by Made By Rae. I have made nine for myself and have also made one for my daughter, one for my sister and one for my mom. And I have two more cut out and another planned now that Rae has posted a how-to on make a boat neck version. Below going counter clockwise from the top right: my first me-made garment: a floral Washi, a favorite Washi made with Brooklyn Bridge fabric, a Washi with sleeves made in double gauze, another version with sleeves made with April Rhodes beautiful fabric, a black and polka dot Washi for my sister and a Washi I made for myself out of beautiful Nani Iro fabric. I also love the Bianca and have made five Bianca dresses that I wear all the time.For me a handmade wardrobe starts with a great pattern such as the Washi, the Bianca, the Beatrix, the Gemma or the Pearl. I love choosing fabrics to suit the patterns and have had great luck with Cotton and Steel and Art Gallery cottons. Then I add a bit of fun: a contrasting facing, a cute label, a fun print. Some examples below: top row are all Gemma Tanks, fabrics by Cotton and Steel and Art Gallery. Second row: Gemma tank refashioned from a thrift store oxford shirt, Luna Pants in fabric from Art Gallery by April Rhodes, the Pearl Shift by Green Bee Patterns in a cotton-linen blend from Robert Kaufman fabrics and a Gemma blouse in Woodcut from the Mesa line from Cotton and Steel.Third row down from the left, wearing a Plaid Flannel Pearl Shift with my two sweeties, jumping for joy in a lined Gemma Tank, another Gemma Tank in Macrame Fabric from Cotton and Steel and a self-drafted Shift Dress based on a New Look pattern with Beatrix sleeves in fabric by Cotton and Steel.
Bottom row: something I love to do is to add contrasting trim: a re-fashioned plaid men’s dress shirt to bind a chambray Gemma Tank, a navy Cotton and Steel print to face a Mesa Beatrix Blouse, fun pink fabric given to me by a friend to face the button placket of a Beatrix tunic, and a contrasting hem facing for a Beatrix-Pearl hybrid shift made out of Alison Glass fabric.
The first Gemma Tank I made was this one. Pictures of it as worn by me here. I cut a Medium with the higher neck option, although I shaved a small bit off the front of the neck. You can see approximately how much I took off below although the picture below is a different Gemma (made the same way). I just slid the pattern down and cut a bit lower using the same curve so that the edge would be below the collarbones.I also lengthened it by approximately two inches. I mostly followed the directions for the bias binding using the traditional method with two changes: I cut my bias strips 1.5 inches instead of 1.25 since I sometimes find I don’t catch the whole edge with the narrower strip and I sewed from the front side on the edge of the binding rather than in the ditch. I find I can line things up better that way and I like the look of the stitching. You can see the position of the needle below. When I initially sew the binding to the edge, I use my presser foot as a visual seam guide and it is about 3/8 inch so my whole binding ends up being a bit wider. I used this beautiful cream colored Art Gallery quilting cotton by April Rhodes. I love this line and had previously made a Washi Dress with the same fabric in the green colorway, seen below.I was so happy with the feel of the fabric-it is soft and works beautifully for sewing garments. It is more like a lawn than quilting cotton. In fact, I bought another 3 yards of the green as a back up plan. I have done that only a few times but I was so happy with my Washi that I wanted to have extra to be able to make it again when I wear it out which I will since I wear it all the time. I often make little changes as I sew and then forget what I changed (I do the same thing when I cook) so I have learned to take pictures. I actually had to look at my picture below to remember that my bias strips were 1.5 inches. I don’t pin before I sew, I just hold the edges together and it generally works pretty well. Then I iron the stitching line and press the edge to the other side and use wonder clips to hold the bias binding in place before I sew the second seam which, as seen below in the finished version, is just to the inside of the ditch. It actually looks like it was sewn on the inside and flipped to the front using the topstitch method, the way Rae shows you here in this great tutorial. Fellow blogger Teri used this method beautifully when she made this great checked Gemma. I am not sure if I would find the topstitch method easier than what I currently do because I have never tried it but I am really happy with this sort of fake topstitch method I developed by mistake. I actually started doing it this way because I couldn’t sew as straight a seam in the ditch as I liked and had better results sewing just over a bit on the side of the seam. I am really happy with how it turns out when everything cooperates. The picture below was taken after several washings and I am still very happy with how this shirt turned out.I like using the wonder clips because I turn the blouse inside out and iron the binding to the wrong side and whereas I used to pin it in place on the wrong side and then flip it and have to move all the pins to the outside before sewing, the side doesn’t matter with the wonder clips and it saves a step. This is what the outside looks like before sewing the second seam.I also sewed a facing onto the hem of this Gemma using more of the binding tape. For some reason, I get a much neater hem doing this than just turning up the fabric. Although it might seem like more work, the seam line gives a visual place to turn up the edge, I iron like crazy and everything just turns out neater. I also like a slightly wider hem than the pattern calls for because I find it lies flatter and doesn’t curl up.I do a lot of ironing when I make the hems this way. I have described this in several previous blogs. I often use contrasting fabric for fun. You can see other examples here, here, here and here. Pictures of the hem facing process below.
As those of you who follow me on instagram know, I have been in the midst of sewing quite a few Gemmas. One might even call it Gemma madness. I have another binding method that I like even better that I will post about soon (also non-traditional.) Stay tuned!
This is the before picture.When I made my first Washi Dress last winter, I didn’t have enough fabric and ended up adding a strip of a different fabric as a border. I was really happy with the result. I was new to this sewing business and if you look closely you can see that I didn’t match up the seams on the main part of the dress and the border but to be honest, it doesn’t even matter. It is cute. I wear it all the time and I get lots of compliments. It is a tribute to Rae that even my first attempts at her patterns have turned out to be wearable and cute.I wanted to make the pattern again and decided to use some black quilting cotton from my stash to make a black Washi. I realized that I had enough black cotton to make almost two dresses but not quite so I decided to use a second fabric to make a contrasting band at the bottom of each skirt. I ended up making two versions: one for my daughter with polka dots and for myself, I used fabric leftover from my younger daughter’s grade school Invention Convention project, which was a “puppymobile”. Details of the two dresses can be seen here in my original post.I was really happy with the effect this little change made to a basic black dress and I was happy to be able to make two dresses using fabric I already had. My sister saw the polka dot version I made for Sarah and said she really liked it. I happened to have the polka dot fabric in a different colorway so I offered to make her one.When I made my own black washi with the puppy fabric lining, I must have cut the lining a bit bigger than the bodice pieces for the dress dress and when I went to topstitch the neckline, it shifted a bit. I ended up doing it on purpose to create the effect of piping without actually having to make piping. I did that for Madeleine’s dress as well. It is such an easy thing to do and I love the effect.Once again, I used the wonderfully clear Made By Rae videos to walk me through the sausage technique to get a clean finish for the lined bodice-finished dress inside out above. Sausage in process below.I used the cutting lines for the Washi tunic and added several inches to create my seam line for the main part of the dress. I sewed all the side seams and added the contrasting border at the end lining up the seam in the border with the side seams of the dress.After sewing on the border, I ironed the seam and then topstitched for a more finished look and for durability, something that is important to me as I machine wash everything. Dry cleaning costs are just not in my budget.I am really happy with the way it turned out. The polka dots add just enough cute to be fun. And here is the finished dress which was mailed out to Michigan for the birthday girl.The puppy version (slightly rumped) below. I wear it often.
I decided to make a dress for my mother for Mother’s Day with one of my favorite patterns, the Made-by-Rae Washi dress. With so many amazing fabrics out there, I wasn’t sure what to use until I remembered that I had this beautiful paisley-like lightweight cotton that I bought years ago at the wonderful fabric store in Brooklyn where I learned to sew. I love the deep navy with the contrasts of yellow, green and red. It feels very French.This felt like the perfect fabric for my mother because she is a Professor of French Literature and has studied and lived in France. I made a medium and lengthened it by 2 inches because we are pretty much the same size. The fabric was a dream to work with.I lined the bodice using the sausage technique that Rae teaches in her videos.I shirred the back. Rae has a great shirring tutorial here. The nice thing about dark fabric is that you can use a chalk liner to mark your shirring lines. The top of the back is folded up out of the way with wonder clips.It is always a good idea to pin or clip the top part of the back before starting to sew the shirring so you don’t catch the top of the back in the shirring seams. (I learned this the hard way.)I lined the bodice with a pale yellow cotton that I had in my stash. The contrast is so pretty.Picture of the inside of the dress. I love the clean finish that you get when you line the bodice. I added loops of ribbon for bra straps, a little touch that makes a huge difference for those of us with sloped shoulders. (inside back view below)I used the navy fabric and made a hem facing. I generally use hem facings to get a cleaner finish as I wrote about here and here. I didn’t have enough of the yellow or I would have used it to make a contrasting hem facing as I usually do.I am really happy with the final product and hope that she will enjoy wearing it all summer. She actually has already worn it to the theater in New York. Check it out! Beautiful, am I right? I may have to make one just like it for myself! I will have to check and see how much of this fabric I have left. 🙂The Washi-such an awesome pattern! Next up, a polka dot Washi for my sister. 😉
I bought this beautiful Nani Iro double gauze fabric at The Cloth Pocket back in October when I visited my son in Austin. I had originally planned to make a blouse but I was inspired by this beautiful dress that Cherie made for her little girl. It is just perfect. I finally got brave enough to cut into the fabric and decided to make another made-by-rae Washi which is a tried and true pattern for me. I cut the sides a little wider to allow for french seams since double gauze frays. I had good luck with this approach when I made my Charm double gauze washi dress. I realized as I lay the pattern pieces out that I hadn’t allowed for enough fabric to match the stripes. It is actually a tricky thing to line up stripes on a Washi because the front of the dress is made of two separate pieces and the back of the dress has shirring which affects how things line up. Realizing that there was no way to do this easily with less than three yards of fabric, I decided to just line the pieces up with the darker stripes around the waist and hope for the best. I used chalk to mark the shirring lines but I usually end up just using one chalked line and then using the first sewing line to guide the rest of my seams. Shirring using elastic thread is actually amazingly easy. Rae’s tutorial here.I used organic natural colored cotton batiste to line the bodice using Rae’s helpful videos. The lining is understitched, a technique I learned from the Beatrix Sewalong.I added a ribbon with snaps for bra strap holders as I sewed the fabric sausage.A fabric sausage pinned and ready to be sewn.Finished shirring visible as I sew the bodice lining.Once again I used a lightweight quilting cotton in a neutral light pink for hem facing. I have used it for several garments. I have almost run out!Hem pinned and ready to be sewn.Hem.Finished dress back view. The stripes don’t line up on the side but I am happy with the way the back stripes ended up. The photo bomber is my sweet dog Sadie.Close up of the beautiful nani iro fabric.Shades of grey can be beautiful!