Simplified {Simplicity 1877}

Pattern:  Simplicity 1877
Version:  B with modifications
Sizing:  12
Fabric:  wool suiting
Notions:  invisible zipper; hock and eye
Instructions:  just fine
Modification: raised neckline; turned bias; no pockets; no flounce
Recommend:  yes, particular with an adjusted neckline

The moment my first Simplicity 1877 was finished, I wanted to make another version out of wool with a higher neckline.  I finally accomplished that goal and am very pleased with the results.  I did make a few changes to "simplify" the design.  For starters, I raised the neckline about three inches, which makes the dress a bit more comfortable to wear because the original neckline hit very low on/between the bust.  I finished off the neck and sleeves with the provided bias binding, but turned the entire strip inside and slip-stitched in place.  As far as other deviations, I removed the pockets and flounce. 

The dress turned out like I wanted, but I really must recommend lining the bodice.  French seams worked wonderfully for the skirt, but the top is a bit messy.  I would also recommend reinforcing the pleats in the front with interfacing.  The pleats on this dress seem to pull and sag since the wool has a drape.  They would be a bit more happy with support. A waist stay, bra strap guides, and raised bodice side seams are also an excellent idea also! None of which I did. 


Sweet Short Jacket {Simplicity 1699}

Pattern:  Simplicity 1699
Version:  C - the jacket
Sizing:  12
Fabric:  wool, polyester lining
Assembly time:  3 hours
Instructions:  fine--I was on a mission so even if they were hideous, I was going to make it happen.
Modification:  shortened length; complete lining; no embellishments
Recommend: yep, simple and sweet

I live in a place that has warm, on the border of HOT, days and cool nights.  A jacket is a must when going out to dinner, taking the dog for a walk, or spending sometime at the drive-in theater.  One day, I was having a wardrobe breakdown and needed a little black jacket to match a dress that I really wanted to wear (I was not going to the drive-in, just a little outdoor wedding).  I had a little over a yard of black wool that matched the dress perfectly and set out to make Simplicity 1699, the jacket version. 

The jacket went together without a hitch.  Since the pattern is not drafted with a complete lining, I just cut one set from the wool and one from polyester. The lining made finishing the inside of the jacket easier since the seams are all covered. I did end up shortening the jacket, because I was a bit short on fabric.  This did not make any difference to me.  No embellishments were used in the making of this cover-up even though the directions really want you to add fringe and such.  Without these embellishment though, the pleated sleeve caps stand out, which is a great little detail.


Denim Delight {Vogue 1349}

Pattern:  Vogue 1349
Sizing:  12 to 14
Fabric:  2.25 yrds chambray
Notions:  invisible zipper; small button; hook and eye
Assembly time: 12 hrs
Instructions:  well thought out
Modification:  no lining, bound arm and neckline
Recommend:  my favorite dress pattern...for the moment

This post is going to be difficult to write, mainly because I am finding it hard to focus on the dress without screeching like a little girl getting a puppy---I like it that much.  Originally, I had massive amounts of doubt that it would work. Let's face it, Vogue can be fussy, shifts can be shapeless, and not all fabric will work for certain projects. 

I knew I wanted a denim shift dress and went through a number of patterns before I selected Vogue 1349.  This pattern has great features, and the fabric selection on the envelope model is way cool.  So, while I knew I was going to loose some of the details the multiple fabrics gave, I thought the use of a decorative stitch would still highlight the use of different seam elements and differentiate the panels for the dress. 

I took my chances on proceeding through the pattern without doing a muslin; my fabric has a price tag that is very wallet friendly, so if I messed up, no great loss.  The direction for fabric amounts lack a single, non-contrast version.  I based the amount needed for a single fabric print on the recommended lining amount and added a bit more, settling on 2.25 yards.  This provided just enough, but if you want a longer skirt, more will be needed, as there was NO extra.  Cotton fabric, chambray to be exact, is not included in the list of recommended fabric, but actually worked wonderfully for the style of dress I was seeking---simple, light-weight, and ready for summer.

Point blank, I left the lining out.  Didn't want it; didn't use it.  The pattern does include a two piece sewn-in lining that looks as if it will work, but I would not be the person to ask about it.  I finished the arms and neck by using a slim bias strip with a finish size of a quarter inch.  The inside and embellished out are finished using a flat-fell seam. I love this process, and it is used often in denim construction.  Check your jeans out, it's there. 

Flat-fell seams are achieved with a bit of work.  The technique starts with a straightforward seam; otherwise known as, the 5/8 inch allowance stitch.  One side of the seam allowance is then trimmed to an eighth of an inch; the other side is folded in half and pressed flat over the smaller side.   Next, the finish stitches are sewn an eighth and quarter inch from the seam.  A double-needle can be used for the cover-stitch, making the process easier.  The easiest and a sure-fire way towards succeed is to baste the seam allowance down before cover-stitching with the machine.  Basting stitches can be seen in the photos.

The making of this dress was very pleasurable.  I found absolutely no difficulty in any of the steps and am so surprised that a Vogue designer pattern is so agreeable. The sizing for bust, waist, and hip printed on the envelope creates a garment that actually fits like it states.  I used these pattern stats for picking my size.  I did do a hip width adjustment by grading out from a bodice size 12 (34 bust), and the fit is what I wanted to a tee.


Sparklen' Skirt {Simplicity 4044}

Pattern:  Simplicity 4044
Version:  C - skirt
Sizing:  12
Fabric:  sequin mesh; polyester crepe
Notions:  invisible zipper; hook and eye
Assembly time:  forever - cut away sequins from seam lines and then reapplied where needed
Instructions:  not necessary
Modification:  oh yeah...

I saw a picture of a $2500 sequin maxi-skirt.  NO, that is not a typo; that is the asking price.  And while the price tag is well beyond any logic, I still really liked it and really wanted it.  Even to this day. Thank goodness, though, that I can sew, because in this instance, I was able to create something that was totally unpractical, better for my body shape, and waaaay cheaper.

I was able to keep the cost down, because I had a fare amount of sequin mesh on hand from another project.  For the lining, since mesh is shear, I opted for black crepe which is easy enough to obtain and inexpensive to boot.  I struggled with which pattern to use though, because I knew I needed something simple with minimal seam lines.  I searched the web, but settled on a pattern in my stash.  Simplicity 4044 may seem like it is a strange choice, mainly because it has a scalloped waistline.  Oh, and there is the fact that there is a center front seam, but whatever.  These details can be easily erased by cutting the front panel on the fold.  4044 works for my design because of its simplicity, length, lack of waistband, and short darts. 

Since, I am not a particular fan of floor length skirts on myself, I originally cut the skirt as the pattern directed, but ended up taking six inches off the length.  I also removed all the sequins that fell in the seam allowance, along the dart lines, and skirt bottom edging.  Removing the sequins helps the fabric lay flat and looks more flattering than a sewn through circle.  If you plan on doing this, be prepared to spend a lot of time on sequin removal and reapplying sequins in bare spots. 

In addition to spending a large amount of time on the placement of the sequins, I also spent time finishing the inside of the skirt.  The mesh can be a bit itchy and, even though I did try really hard to remove all the cut plastic from the sequins, there is still residual left that, let's face, can ruin a nylon stocking and be poky on the bare skin.  A simulated French seam was the solution to this problem.  I stitched both layers, the mesh and crepe, together then folded the crepe towards each other, incasing the mesh between the layers, then edge stitch the folded edge.

Straightening the waistline meant the facing included in the pattern was not drafted correctly.  Instead, I used a on-grain strip, bond the cut line, and slip-stitched it towards the inside of the skirt.  Surprisingly, an invisible zipper was used despite the fabric texture; this was achieved by removing the extra sequins. 

Without a doubt, I like the skirt that I made better than the $2500 one!  Not only is this one a fraction of the cost---roughly $20--it is much more me.  Now, just where do you wear all these sparkles?


Hidden Pleats {Butterick 5610}

Pattern:  Butterick 5610
Version:  View A
Sizing:  14
Fabric:  poly charmeuse
Assembly time:  about 3 hrs
Instructions:  you'll need them for the front pleats, and be sure to mark yoke to shirt facings
Modification:  self-lined instead of using interfacing
Recommend:  The pattern has some pluses, and I am very curious about View B. 

While this shirt looks fairly easy, it will give you issues if you fail to mark the pivot points and pleats.  For View A, the yoke extends to the sleeves with the blouse to body inset near the armholes at an angle.  Without the tailor marks, the blouse is difficult to neatly attach to the yoke.  I should know, I thought I had enough savvy skills to leave the marks out---I DO NOT.  My first attempt was hideous and so I tried again with markings and it was easy.  Instead of using an interfacing, I self-lined the yoke by cutting two each of the front and back.  This worked out well.  All-in-all, this shirt is great.  I like it very much.  I think the pattern is a keeper and just may try the other version.


Not Quiet Me {Simplicity 1692}

Pattern:  Simplicity 1692
Version:  C
Sizing:  14
Fabric:  charmeuse
Notions:  6 buttons - covered
Instructions:  very easy to understand and assemble with or without instructions
Modification:  stitched side seam instead of using zipper
Recommend:  hummm?

The color and the print are so far removed from what I usually wear that I hinder between liking this shirt and hating everything about it. The best part of this pattern is the ease that it goes together.  Seriously, the four pieces (not including the button loops) fit with so much ease that very little effort needs to be exerted.  I chose this fabric, which I hate, to see how things would go if I stitched the side seam together instead of using a side zipper.  It worked out well.  I did go up a size, but if I sew this again from a polyester charmeuse, I would down size simply because I found that extra fabric is not required to slip the shirt over my head; mainly because the buttons at the shoulder seam are functional.  I would also extend the dart length an inch or two for a more formal, better fitting feel on the front panel.


White in Winter {Butterick 5982}

Pattern:  Butterick 5982
Version:  short sleeves with no overlay
Sizing:  14
Fabric:  2.5 yrds cotton eyelet
Notions:  invisible zipper
Instructions:  simple and straight forward
Modification:  none, sized up to avoid any need for modification
Recommend:  It's a sweet little dress with a nice combination of pleats and ruffles for the skirt. 

White in winter....while some are enjoying snowy streets and sledding hills, I am enjoying a gloriously warm winter where a little white dress is perfectly acceptable for dancing under the blue sky.  This dress will see many a summer days this year, because it is perfection as far as I am concerned.

It all started with the fabric, which is a sturdy bleach-white cotton embellished with embroidered circles.  The fabric was narrow, about 40 inches, and took every inch of the 2.5 yards.  The bodice is lined in a light-weight cotton.  Besides the zipper, no other notions are needed. 

I cut the pattern at a straight size 14 for two reasons: 1) wanted a no-fuss project, and 2) to avoid a tight fit on hot days.  In dresses similar to this, I usually cut a size 12.  The top is constructed with darts and princess seams, while the bottom has voluminous gathers with pleats that create a flat center and back.  The directions are simple and straight forward; all this means a beginner seamer can find success in construction, and I have nothing to add to aid in completing the dress.


Bio: Me and the Blog

SO LITTLE TIME…why the name? When I enter my craft room, I find that time seems to slip away. Hours turn to seconds, days turn into minutes….time flies by as I enjoy the moments I spend creating. Yes, even the moments that I struggle to complete something that I am not quite satisfied with or picking up messes that I have made along the way.

Sewing has always been a part of my life and is attributed to my great-grandmother.  All of her working life, and most of her private one, was spent as a seamstress tailoring and hemming other's clothing.  From altering fur coats to my truly couture wedding dress, her natural ability was remarkable.  Fortunately, I spent a great deal of time with her and was able to learn some skills starting at young age.  I was a constant fixture in the sewing room starting at age two.  At age five, I was gifted my first sewing machine.  Shortly thereafter, I was always in need of fabric, thread, needles, and the sharpest of scissors. 

Handmade clothes have always been part of my wardrobe, though in my teenage years I strayed away from the notion---as teenagers tend to ridicule others for wearing homemade things.  These days, I wear my handmade clothes more and more often; and the more I wear my creations, the better my skills are becoming.  At the start of this blog, I was truly reluctant to post any of my sewing creations; however, my blog is migrating to a sew-centric site as I become a little more at ease about saying, "yes, I made this" and "thank you" when someone compliments me on my handmade clothes.  And while, I am NOT into the latest fashion or claim to know anything about fashion, my goal is to create clothing that is reflectively of me and, of course, uniquely beautiful.


Mass Cuttings {stitching tip}

Butterick 5610; Butterick 5890; Butterick 5754;
Butterick 5922; Vogue 8886; Butterick 5949; Simplicity 1806;
Simplicity 2249; Butterick 5997; Simplicity 1877; Butterick 5982
The end of last year was a major fail for starting and completing sewing projects.  I had a hard time committing to what I wanted to make and picking the fabric---there were just too many decisions to make that I felt paralyzed.  There other day, though, I decided it was time to get on with things and  spent the last three days cutting patterns.  Believe it or not, mass cuttings are a great motivation for me.  Not only is a pre-cut project ready to go when I am, it eliminates the second guessing---once something is cut the only option is to move forward.

My process is pretty simple.  I gather all the fabric I have, all the patterns that are new or the ones I have liked from previous garments, I lay things out, and then play with the different combinations.  I take into account the details provided on the back of the envelope, such as recommended fabric type, yardage, and if a lining is needed.  Once all the decisions are made, I start cutting.  Of course, only one pattern is cut at time including the lining and interfacing if necessary.  I find notes helpful, since it may be some time before that particular piece will be finished.  One thing learned over the course of time is to mark what version has been cut; it's easy to forget.  I also try to gather all the notions needed.  When everything is prepared, I place all the pieces, including the pattern envelope into a sack and stack. Then, when I am ready, I pull a project out and start sewing.

Here's a little look at what I have put together.  Expect to see some of these works in the coming months.  I also have a few other glorious patterns set aside to make in the near future. 


Bravo to the New Year's Dress {Burda 10/12 #118A}

Pattern: Burda 10/12 #118A
Sizing: 36 to 38 plus a little extra in the hips
Fabric: 2 yrds stretch wool suiting; 1.5 yrd poly charmeuse
Notions: invisible zipper; hook and eye; twill tape; elastic
Assembly time: 8 hours (give or take)
Instructions: fine--it's Burda
Modification: added full lining
Recommend: yes

I originally saw the pattern for this dress published in the Burda Style – English edition in October 2012. Since then, I have wanted to make it, but kept putting it off (those pesky seam allowances that need to be added deter me with great vengeance). However, when it was republished in Burda Style Magazine for Winter 2014 I hopped on the task, especially when I read the seam allowances were added to the winter iteration.

After testing the pattern on some scrap fabric, I decided to cut the pattern at a size 38 through the hip area and a size 36 for the top. This worked out fairly well; a little experimenting on the hip curves was needed. I ended up with about a 42 ease. I did select to added an additional 5/8 inch to the skirt sides as well. I wanted to make sure I had enough seam allowance to be able to make alterations, as I tend to gain weight through this region. I also shorten the length of the dress to hit above the knee, just to save some fabric.

Selecting the fabric was a bit of a challenge for me. I kept going back and forth between ordering a gray twill similar to the Burda version or use the red wool that I had on hand. Well, as you can see I used the red wool and am very happy with the selection. What I am not so happy about is the fabric I used for the lining. After wearing it for the evening, I discovered that it dyed me a lovely bright red. The charmeuse is not color set! I will have to think of something to do about that—more than likely replace the lining.

The pattern, as written, does not include a lining. I added it to alleviate some of the lumps and bumps that can be seen with thinner fabrics (aka the panty line). The lining pieces were relatively simple to draft. The cowl neck folds over to under the arm holes. I took the length from where the cowl lining fell to the bottom of the dress and cut the skirt portion using the side of the pattern that is not gathered. The back panels were lined by duplicating the pattern pieces.

As far as construction, I read over the “sewing course” directions (a supplement) provided in the English addition of Burda Style. They are far better than the standard directions and actually show a step-by-step approach with graphics. For the most part, I followed these directions, but I did have to deviate from them because of the lining. I also used twill tape to reinforce the zipper and elastic cut at two inches for the side gather.

If I sew this dress again, I would more than likely extend the cowl lining a bit. It hits me straight across the bust line and by lowering it an inch or two it would disappear.   Let me just say this, the picture above shows some stress in the bust; that was just how I was extending my arms, the bust lays flat when I am "normal". That aside, another change I would make would be to remove some of the ease in the sleeve cap. While the sleeve fit nicely into the arm hole, there is a bit of extra fabric. I was able to shape it a small amount (it is wool but has the synthetic fibers), and I added bra guards.

The dress is a wonderful addition to my closet. I wore it to New Year’s Eve dinner and it was delightfully comfortable. I think it is figure friendly too, since the gather camouflages the tummy. I have been thinking a summer version would be nice with cap sleeves or even sleeveless. All and all, I say BRAVO to this dress.