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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Made By Rae Patterns, Ruby Dress Pattern, Sewing

Snowversary 2017

FullSizeRender (14).jpgIt 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)fullsizerender-15 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 (!)img_5117I 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.fullsizerender-8 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. fullsizerender-13I 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.img_5125I 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.fullsizerender-12 I machine wash my garments and it seems as though that extra stitching gives the neckline a bit more stability and strength. img_5149The 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. img_5143I 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. fullsizerender-9I 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?fullsizerender-11I 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. fullsizerender-16

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Pearl Shift, Reading and Books, Sewing

Fall 2016: Checks and Plaid, Muffins and Soup

Fall has come to Connecticut in all its glory. The view from my front porch last week:img_3922With the cooler weather, I am turning to the Pearl Shift which I previously made, and lived in basically all last winter, in heavy cotton flannel plaids from Jo-Ann. You can see those versions here. When I saw the new Checkers fabric from Cotton and Steel, I thought it would be perfect for a Pearl. I was inspired by a similar dress, an Esme tunic which can be found in this bookimg_3685-1When I make changes to patterns, I write notes to myself on the pattern pieces. Ironically, sometimes I forget to read the notes until after cutting out the pattern as I did here. I did not actually add enough to the seam allowance to allow for french seams. Note to self: read notes to self. img_3686-1This is a very straight-forward pattern and if I didn’t insist on adding a zipper, it would be even quicker but I think the zipper adds a lot so I used one here. I sewed it using a techinique I modified from Dana by watching this video of how to sew a lined zipper pouch. It was this video that inspired me to use wonder clips which work well. The picture below shows where I lined up the top of the zipper but I think I will move it up a bit on my next version because there is a bit of a gap at the top in the finished version. img_3879Sewing the first side:img_3882After sewing one side, I do the reverse and then top-stitch. I find it works best to sew the zipper initially going from top to bottom but I have better success with the top-stitching when I start at the bottom of the zipper and sew to the top maintaining some tension on the fabric to prevent puckers.img_3885Lining up the second side.img_3881Ready for top-stitching.img_3888After top-stitching. It took three tries to get this. Sewing from the bottom of the zipper to the top was the key in the end.img_3891I used my usual hem facing technique. I cut up an old muslin into 3 inch strips. I have described this technique in my prior Pearl posts here and here. It is very straightforward.img_3943I am able to use the metal plate edge as the perfect guide to sew the hem when I use the 3 inch strips.img_3958Since I had extra of the 3 inch strips, I finished the sleeves the same way. I bound the neck using 1.5 inch bias binding leftover from my Checkers Gemma Tank. The hem and sleeve facing is not cut on the bias since there is very little curve to the hem and the sleeves are cut straight across. It worked well and was very quick to finish,. img_3956Finished dress on the front door.img_3985Back of dress.img_3990And as worn. Although I thought I cut it the same length as my previous versions, this one is a little longer. I am not sure how I feel about it. I really like the way the linen one fits but I also find that when there is less heft to the fabric as in my Alison Glass version, the tunic rides up. I will have to wear this for a while and see what I think about the length. I think on me, the shorter version is a little more flattering but time will tell.img_3972Side view.img_3975Back view.img_3965Linen version for comparison.img_3705One more picture with fall foliage.img_3969Other things we have been enjoying here in Connecticut: a tour of a new craft brewery in our town which is expanding. It was fun to go on the tour and great to see a new successful local business. img_3939A beautiful sunrise. I love watching the sun come up and I miss the sunrises when I have to leave for work in the dark. (I am not a fan of shorter winter days.)img_3876My nasturtiums finally bloomed (in October). Note to self: plant earlier next year. They were cheap and maintenance free and pretty. img_3712Fall is soup and muffin weather chez Nursebean. My usual modus operandi is to make what I call refrigerator soup. It is when you open the refrigerator and see what you have and make soup. It is a great way to take those leftovers and make a meal. This post from one of my favorite bloggers is a great description of how to do this. I also made this Broccoli and Dill soup which was enjoyed by all (from one of my other favorite bloggers).img_3660 I have had this pot and this bowl for over 25 years.img_3691 I get nostalgic cooking on Sunday afternoons thinking about how many pots of chili, soup and even lasagnas have been made in this blue Le Creuset pot which was a wedding gift over 30 years ago. I remember buying the bowl as a young broke new mom. It was a big splurge at the time. I don’t think it was actually very expensive but all purchases felt like big purchases at that point in my life (and in many ways still do). I still love it. Many muffins and cookies have started in this bowl. Mr. Nursebean has found that he feels better when he avoids gluten so I made some adjustments to the cornmeal muffin recipe from this book which is one of my go to cookbooks and which has excellent muffin recipes (they all start with a stick of butter so it would be hard to go wrong). Here is my version. I  actually think they are better this way, sort of nutty and you can convince yourself that they are healthy because of the nut flour and the yogurt. They are great right out of the oven with butter and raspberry jam but I also freeze them and then zap them in the microwave for a minute and they are perfect for breakfast.

Cornmeal Muffins:

Pre-heat oven to 375-I use convection setting.

Melt a stick of butter in a big bowl. I usually microwave for 2 minutes. Let cool a bit

In a separate bowl combine: 1.5 cups each of cornmeal flour and almond flour, 2 teaspoons baking powder and 1/2 teaspoon baking soda and a dash of salt

Beat two eggs into melted butter and combine dry and wet ingredients. Don’t over-mix.

Add one 6 oz lemon, plain or vanilla yogurt to the mixture. Add approx 4 oz milk (or as much as you need to make the mixture mixable and about the texture of wet scrambled eggs.

Bake for approx 20 minutes or until a knife comes out clean.

Serve hot out of the oven with butter and rasberry jam or next day-I find they reheat perfectly with 30 seconds in the microwave or 1 minute if frozen (I often freeze them so they don’t disappear too fast. They make a great breakfast.)

My daughter and I have been trying to walk most days. The trees along our walk have been beautiful.img_3818I have been doing a lot of reading. I inhaled this novel and this mystery. I highly recommend both. This fall is the 10th anniversary of the fall that this sweet puppy joined our family. She still greets me with love every time I come home. A gift to us all.img_3914Next up are two more Pearl shifts in plain flannel purchased last year at Jo-Ann’s. img_3689This time I remembered to add the extra seam allowance for french seams. This is why I often make more than one of a pattern in a row. It takes a couple times to work out the bugs! One of these will be for me and one for my daughter who I will see (yay!) for Thanksgiving. I have a lot to be thankful for. Wishing everyone a beautiful fall!

Please note 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 on my blog. 

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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.

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About Me, Made By Rae Patterns, Reading and Books, Ruby Dress Pattern, Sewing, unplugged

Nursebean Takes a Minibreak

 

Getting ready to sew on day 1 of my mini-break.img_2259Summer can sometimes be a challenging time for me. Social media is flooded with vacation photos of beaches and mountains and faraway places (the pictures of Norway and Sweden are amazing) but probably the hardest pictures to see are pictures of cabins in the woods on beautiful clean lakes. It makes me want to just jump into the picture. This one is from a real estate listing is exactly the kind that gives me pangs.maine lake imageBut it turns out that being at home can also be wonderful. I used to spend summers in Maine. I was incredibly lucky and I will always treasure those summers. But that is just not my life right now. I work two jobs and I don’t have the money or time off to travel. But one benefit to not having a lot of time off is that when you finally do take a break, you appreciate it so much. I recently had 5 days off in a row. I didn’t go anywhere and I didn’t really do anything fancy or extravagant but I had a great time. Here is what I did.

I read several books-all of which were engaging summer reads that did not require much from me. The stories drew me in and carried me along. I got most of the book suggestions from Anne Bogel. The graphic novel was a book club read. Sort of Roz Chast on steroids. Weird but funny. I particularly enjoyed reading in early morning. Here’s what I read:

I spent a lot of time on my front porch-reading and eating simple meals both alone and with some of my kids who were home for part of the weekend. Lunch on the porch below:img_2279I made a nice breakfast with home made berry muffins for my family, most of whom were with us. It was great to have a big group around the table. I used the pretty china and picked wild flowers from the garden. I love big family gatherings centered around a nice meal and my kids live far away so this was a treat for me. We also had a taco night with part of the group the night before and a dinner out at a favorite restaurant with my two daughters and son in law. It is a place we had gone to many times when they were younger so that was a special evening.

Staying on the topic of food, I ate a lot of tomato and fried egg sandwiches-both separately and together. If I had to pick one favorite food it would probably be fresh summer tomatoes. I remember reading this book as a child and not really getting why the main character ate tomato sandwiches every day for lunch but I get it now. I could be perfectly happy doing that. Or alternating with a fried egg sandwich with avocado on good bread. These are my new favorite meals. Quick, inexpensive, delicious. My husband bought this mayonnaise by mistake one day and it turns out to be the secret ingredient.

img_2261I sewed, sewed, sewed. But I didn’t treat the sewing as a chore. I did a couple of hours of sewing every day. I listened to music while I sewed.  When it started to feel like a chore, I switched gears and read or did yoga. I completed three garments:  a Ruby Dress for myself and a Ruby Blouse for a friend:

and a new pair of Luna pants for me in a fun print.img_2350and I started work on a baby quilt for a friend. img_2386I decided to make a whole cloth quilt and hand quilt it. It was fun to make and not having to piece the top ended up making it less stressful. It also made the hand quilting much easier since there were no seam allowances. While I quilted, I listened to this audio book which is really terrific. Each of the sewing projects were things I had made before and which weren’t super complicated. This meant that I was able to complete a new garment in a day which was really fun. While I love trying new patterns, there is nothing like the tried and true pattern that you know by heart and which fits you well. Cut, sew, wear, repeat. Boom! 

I went to a great yoga class with my daughter and I did yoga on the porch the rest of the days. I am loving  30 days of yoga with Adrienneimg_2291I had a diner breakfast with my daughter and son in law and then my daughter and I got our toenails painted in summer colors before they flew back home to the mid-west. I miss her already. New Luna pants in the wild below. And then it was back to reality.img_2196At least I had a new dress to wear my first day back.img_2408

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