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

Standard
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. 

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

Snowday Sewday: WashiXP and Fringe Cleo Skirt

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

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

Checkers Gemma

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

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

Macrame Gemma (a pictorial post)

I have written several posts about the Gemma Tank so this will just be pictures with details/links at the end of the post. Once again, when you have fabric this beautiful and a pattern you love, the rest is easy.

Details:

Gemma Tank pattern by Made By Rae; scoop neck version

Garment Fabric: Macrame by Rashida Coleman-Hale for Cotton and Steel in cotton lawn in color Midnight purchased at Fabric.com

Binding Fabric: Cotton and Steel Lawn in Petal purchased at Hawthorne Threads

Size: I cut between the M and S lines and added an inch to the length

Binding width: 1.25 inches

Binding Method: see here

Previous Gemma posts: many

Gemma WIPs: many

Total number of Gemmas completed and in-process: I’m not telling but we will have a celebration when I #finishallthegemmas

Standard
Gemma Tank, Made By Rae Patterns, Sewing, Uncategorized

Gemma Tank Five Ways

Version #1 of the Gemma Tank Pattern by Made By Rae. Size medium. Higher neckline version which I cut a bit lower. No other adjustments except adding 2 inches to the length. Fabric is from the Bound Collection by April Rhodes. Front view:img_2700Back view:img_2677Version number 2: Size medium. Same adjustments as version #1 but decided after cutting out the pattern to use contrasting fabric left over from my Luna Pants for bias binding.  I deliberately sewed it in a way that lets it be seen (fake piping method which I describe in my Washi Madness and Washi Details posts). Because I didn’t add a seam allowance, the shoulders are a little narrow. But I love this tank because I love the fabric from the Lucky Strikes collection from Cotton and Steel. This tank falls into the very rare category of garments I love so much that I went out and bought the fabric again as a back up to make a second version if anything happens to the first. This is one of four garments that fit that category and yes, I bought another 2 yards of the fabric the other day (thank you Alewives Fabric where it is still available.) Front view:img_2732Back view:img_2703Side view:img_2713Version number 3. I made a muslin in size Small for my stepdaughters to try since they have a birthday coming up and there is some Octopus fabric just crying out to be a tank top. I tried it on and I liked the closer fit for the lower scooped neck so I made this version with Wood Block fabric from the Mesa collection of Cotton and Steel. Still available in green at Fabric.com and in both colorways at Hawthorne Threads. I am seriously contemplating buying the blue version because I love how well this fabric suits the pattern. I love how the fit feels on but I think I need to try another version cutting between the Small and Medium lines. The Medium is a little more blousy than I like. I didn’t realize it until I wore it all day. And the Small gets a little tight in the upper bust and I think the smaller size is a little less flattering to the bust. The drape of the medium is prettier than the tighter fit for those of us who are small busted but I like them both. It is sort of like having two patterns making the two versions (high neck vs scoop neck) in different sizes. I lengthened this one by 1 inch and used facing for the hem. Front view.img_2781 I used chambray left over from several previous projects that I purchased over 20 years ago in Brooklyn for the bias binding which I used on the neck, armholes and as a facing for the hem.img_2556 I swear that this fabric regenerates itself while I sleep. There is always a bit more for one more project. One of my children’s favorite childhood books was this one which this reminds me of. A wonderful book which we discovered through Chinaberry Books which is an amazing parenting resource for all you parents out there. img_2547 Gemma hanging on front door. #goodlightimg_2554Gemma hanging in a window. img_2550More pictures of my woodblock Gemma below. It might be my favorite. It is hard to choose. img_2757The Gemma tank is perfect with a cardigan:img_2793Side view:img_2773with Sadie the wonder dog who is not enjoying the Dog Days of Summer img_2740action shot with dog below, (note to self: add bra-strap holders) but the fit is really good as you can see.img_2747All of these tops have already been washed and worn. Even though the Dog Days of Summer are supposed to have been over August 11th-at least according to the internet- they are in full force in Connecticut. It has been unbearable. These tanks are perfect for these hot days. Sadie the wonder dog is not feeling so wonderful d/t the heat. #summerinconnecticutimg_2582I have two more Gemmas in the works. This teal version in Cotton and Steel lawn from the Cookie Book collection just needs binding. I haven’t yet decided whether to bind it with matching binding on the outside like my April Rhodes Gemma or with contrasting pink binding on the inside like my other two Gemmas. I may split the difference and use the pink for a hem facing and do the bindings in the traditional way called for by the pattern a la version 1. Still deciding and still #toohottosew in CT so it will have to wait.img_2663You may not be able to see it in the photo but I stay-stitched all my seams. Rae taught me well!img_2649This final version is Art Gallery voile purchased on sale from the always awesome The Cloth Pocket, my neighborhood store in Austin, Texas. I love buying fabric there online and in person. I feel as though I have a whole group of sewing friends cheering me on, which I do. I lined it with organic cotton batiste from Fabric.com which I have used successfully for several projects. It just needs hemming. This was sort of an action shot. I was turning from back to front. But it gives you a good idea of the fit. I did add a bit of a seam allowance to the armholes but used more than I added. I lined it using the good old MBR sausage method which I have posted about many times. I will do a more detailed how-to blog soon.img_2627Back:img_2623So clearly I am enjoying this pattern. It is quick and easy sew and it allows you to get a little crazy with fabric because while you might not make a whole dress of a funky fabric, a tank top is a small enough commitment (and everything goes with jeans) so I am now looking at my stash in a new way and seeing so many possibilities. I will post again later this week with details and how-too info. Next up will be to try a Small-Medium version to see if that is the perfect Goldilocks fit solution and to get going on many tanks in size Small for the birthday girls. Action shot below. #jumpingforjoy because the heat is lifting:) img_2625

Please note that that my blog is not monetized and has no sponsors. I provide links to share online resources that I enjoy using. I do not derive any financial benefit if you click on links in my blog. 

Standard
Quilting, Sewing

Friendly Beasts Quilt

img_2457A dear friend is expecting a baby boy and I wanted to make her a quilt.img_2416 I love Cotton and Steel’s Bluebird line and was especially taken with the lion heart and octopus fabrics. img_2445Although I thought about different pieced block designs, I didn’t like the idea of cutting up the fabric. In the end, I just used these two beautiful fabrics and hand quilted free form wavy lines that I enjoyed swooping across the fabric with my chalk liner. img_2453It went so fast and was such a  fun project. More close-ups of curvy quilting lines below.  img_2449Whole cloth quilting goes so fast! No seam allowances to quilt through!img_2450The biniding was hand stitched. A bit wonky on the corners since I am out of practice.img_2448I don’t remember the last time I bound a quilt. Many years. I was a bit out of practice but it came back. The wonkyness means it was handmade. Love in every stitch.img_2447And I used a nursebeansews label for the first time!img_2459

Standard