Tag Archives: dress

Swing

Swing t-shirt dress

Swing t-shirt dress

Swing t-shirt dress

Swing t-shirt dress

Swing t-shirt dress

Swing t-shirt dress

Swing t-shirt dress

Swing t-shirt dress

This is a pretty simple dress but I want like ten of them. These are definitely my most-worn garments the past few months and I love them so much. There’s not too much to say about them though.

I started with Stretch and Sew 1500, which we used in my beginning clothing class. I think it’s out of print now but if you can get your hands on it, it’s a great pattern. (Here’s a copy that’s on Etsy.) I’ve kind of started using it as my unofficial knit sloper. I pretty much just lengthened the front to dress length, lengthened the back slightly more, and then slashed and spreaded the whole thing to add extra fullness. Then I curved the front and back hems to create a nice high low curve.

The maroon one is made with a really nice cotton interlock from Stretch and Sew Fabrics. (They’re no longer open as a store but they come to my school twice a year with a selection of knit fabrics at great prices.) The elephant one is a really interesting knit that has an almost brushed flannel feeling on the back. I snagged that one from Sewfisticated in Boston.

And that’s about it! Interestingly, the elephant one originally had long sleeves and I wore it literally once and then it sat in my closet gathering dust. Then I came across it again a few weeks ago, hacked off the sleeves, and now I wear it all the time. Especially to buffets.

Hmm maybe I should make a slightly dressier one for Thanksgiving.

Peaseblossom 

My friend and I throw this party every year. She doesn’t sew but is very artistic so we like to make costumes together. The past few years, we’ve basically come up with party themes based on what kind of dresses/costumes/outfits we want to make. This year’s was A Midsummer Night’s Dream.

Her parents’ house is on a lake and surrounded by trees, and the party is always in August, so it was kind of the perfect setting. They hung fancy lights up, we picked a bunch of wildflowers and displayed them in vases and teapots, and there was a roast pig.

Lemon cupcakes with lemon glaze, topped with a brûlée-ed candied pink lime slice, topped with gold flakes. 

As soon as we decided on the theme, I knew I wanted to do something with tulle, and possibly lots of layers. Kind of like Cinderella Lite, except with embroidery. I’d picked up some linen embroidery floss at a rummage sale and wanted to try it out. I still don’t get why/when you would use this over normal embroidery floss. It’s a nice effect but it doesn’t look *that* different and the thread breaks unless you’re super careful or cut it into tiny pieces.

Anyway, I fell in love with this model/cosplayer’s wedding dress and decided to base my dress off of hers, but in a much more informal and less wedding-y way. I originally wanted it in a blush/ballet pink, but I had all this leftover Cinderella fabric so I decided to be a responsible person and just go with that.

I started off with sewing the bodice. I bought some mesh and coordinating lining fabric from Joanns for the bodice. Basically I drafted a bodice piece and sewed that in the mesh, and then I made elongated “cups” out of the lining fabric sandwiching some lingerie cut and sew foam, and then handstitched the cups to the inside of the mesh.

Then I started embroidering the crap out of this thing. I followed the general style of the inspiration wedding dress but used different styles of flowers and in different colors. I wanted it to be whimsical and forest-y and fun more than elegant. I pretty much just looked on Google and Pinterest for floral embroidery photos for ideas. Here’s the one I used for the bust area (in the photo above).

Once it was done, I made 6 above-the-knee circle skirts — 3 mesh, 3 chiffon — and sewed those to a waistband, which helped support the cups and hold everything together. The waistband then got folded under so you don’t actually see it from the outside.

Now excuse me while I try to resist starting to plan next year’s costume, which will consist of beads, twill tape, and sheer fabrics.

For the record, my friend doesn’t sew and draped her entire dress herself!!

(Thanks for the photos Keith!)

adventures in patterndrafting // mystery fabric contest 2017

Mystery Fabric Contest dress 2017

This dress was kind of a beast. It was unwieldy and not very nice at times. It also kind of had a mind of its own but I mostly managed to wrangle it into submission with a lot of hand-stitching.

But let’s start at the beginning.

MFC dress 2017 progress

I had two main sources of inspiration for this one: Claire Danes’ Met Gala dress from 2016 and the Iron Work dress by House of Worth. (Or technically the Redthreaded version because that’s what popped up on my instagram feed and cued heart eyes because holy crap.)

I knew I wanted to do something completely different from last year, so my sister expressly forbade me from doing 3D flowers to use up the uglier fabrics. And then lots of people last year kept saying they took their ugliest fabrics and made them into bias tape for binding seams on the inside. For some reason my brain took that and ran with it and I decided that no matter what fabric I got, I would turn it into bias tape and cover the dress with it.

MFC dress 2017 progressI never want to look at bias tape again.

I chose a blue bundle because I thought it would be fun to do something a little more colorful. Except “blue” really meant “beige with blue accents” and the one fabric I got a large-ish (2.5 yards) piece of looked almost exactly like my dress from last year (the one on the far left).

I started doing some sketching about stripe directions and what not, and somewhere along the line my brain also decided this dress needed to also be reversible. I kept looking at Oscars dresses and all of my favorites were solid colors, so I decided that I’d make a plain black side as the actual Oscars dress, and the striped side would be like the after-party dress. Repurposing ftw.

I started with a muslin high-low circle skirt, which I divided into quadrants. I sewed a cluster of 9 stripes straight down the front, sides, and back. Then I drew diagonal lines and sewed a 5 stripe cluster down the four diagonals. Then it was just filling in the horizontal stripes.

Two issues came up here:

Issue #1) I could NOT get the bias tape to stay straight. It kept wanting to curve. I decided to just go with it and in the end you can’t really tell, and it actually looks kind of cool in a Mat Hatter-y sort of way.

MFC dress 2017 progress

At this point I was sewing on a few stripes of the same color, switching thread colors, and then sewing a few of the other color before switching back. Killmenow.

MFC dress 2017 progressSpiderweb?

Then I decided to just suck it up and use my sick Bernina even though the timing is off and she skips stitches sometimes. I should really take that in to get fixed.

Issue #2) I ran out of beige fabric. There was a moment of panic but it ended up being fine; I used some of the uglier canvas fabrics covered with the black I’d purchased to make solid pieces at the bottoms. It gives the eye a place to rest and also matches the solid pieces in the bodice.

MFC dress 2017 progressUgly canvas pieces sewn together to form a piece a little larger than the “naked” area at the hem of the skirt.

MFC dress 2017 progressPinned down so I can cut the exact shape needed.

MFC dress 2017 progressA solid black piece cut out in the same shape to go on top.

I took many breaks during this process to work on the bodice, which proved to be a different sort of challenge. I started off drafting a corsety shaped thing and played with the style lines a bit. The black side still has the Claire Danes dress lines, but it didn’t really work on the striped side.

MFC dress 2017 progressBoning channeling.

MFC dress 2017 progressThe original bodice before I re-did it twice.

I decided that while the upside center piece works well in solids, it really doesn’t translate to a giant solid piece amongst stripes, so I redrafted those (thank god they were only style lines and not shaping ones!) and turned that piece upside down.

MFC dress 2017 progressSketch concept of the new bodice. 

MFC dress 2017 progressPinning to see how it looks.

MFC dress 2017 progress

I was running super low on the beige stripes at this point so I was trying to save as much of it for the skirt as possible. I decided to try adding triangular wedges of solid black. I realized that this inadvertently solved my issue of “Does the random center black panel look out of place?” (The answer was yes.) And then they also went with the solid black pieces at the hem! Total accident, guys.

MFC dress 2017 progressAnddd new bodice in progress. Much better!

MFC dress 2017 progress

I kind of went into panic mode at this point and stopped taking progress photos, but nothing super interesting happened after this, just a lot of hand-sewing. I had to trim an angle into the circle skirt waist to accommodate the pointy bodice.

And then I had to be strategic in how I put the whole thing together in order for it to be reversible.

1) I started at the neckline, sandwiching the fluttery pieces between the two bodices and stitching the necklines together.

2) I sewed each skirt to its corresponding bodice.

3) I hand-stitched the two waistline hems together to keep things from shifting around.

4) Attached ban-rol to the hem. I was going to use horsehair braid but I was concerned about how heavy the skirt was going to be. I’d never heard of ban-rol and was in an experimental mood. It worked ok, I think. I’ll have to try horsehair braid to compare.

5) Hand-stitched the entire hem closed.

6) I had three fabrics left so I made a little quilted clutch (also reversible with one side to go with each side of the dress) but I forgot to take photos. Oops.

Phew! I turned in my dress on Tuesday and now I’m kind of having separation anxiety. I’ve been working on it on and off for months, and basically on nothing else for the past few weeks. Now excuse me while I go sew a bunch of t-shirts and zippy bags and pillow cases for the next month.

And see my previous post for more photos of the finished dress!

Mystery Fabric Contest dress 2017

Flower-picking

Copying RTW - blue dress

Copying RTW - blue dress

Copying RTW - blue dress

Copying RTW - blue dress

Copying RTW - blue dress

Copying RTW - blue dress

About a million years ago I bought this dress at Forever21. It was a cute little cotton floral dress with a lined bodice, back cut-out, gigantic pockets, and pretty wooden buttons along the back. It fit me perfectly and was the perfect comfy summer dress. Or the perfect dress for picking flowers and/or berries. I had to really resist making a flower crown for this post.

Anyway, over the years I’ve gotten rid of every other Forever21 purchase but I could never seem to let go of this one. I had this idea that I was going to try to make more of them but it never really seemed to happen. Then this summer I took a Copying Ready to Wear class at school. I decided to use a coat as my class project so I could learn all the more difficult stuff, but as soon as class was over I used the same techniques to whip up this dress. (And then immediately made a second one, and started a third. More on those later.)

Copying RTW - F21 dress

Copying RTW - F21 dress

I used this Cotton + Steel fabric (I actually ordered it from Craftsy but they don’t seem to have it anymore) and it’s so so so perfect. It’s got the great crispness of cotton which is perfect for all those gathers and the pockets, but it’s a lawn so lightweight and doesn’t look like it’s made of quilting cotton. Insert heart eyes here. And then there’s the buttons!! I knew I wanted wooden ones but I was in one of those situations where I wanted the dress to be done RIGHTTHISMINUTE so I could wear it, so I only had time to go to Joann’s. The only ones they had that were wood and big enough were these stupid square ones. Except then I realized if I turned them a bit they became diamonds and suddenly they fit perfectly with the print. *squee*

The nice thing about this technique for copying RTW garments is that you don’t actually have to take the garment apart. It can be rather time-consuming though, so you do want to make sure you’re putting all the work in for a garment you’d actually want to wear in the end. The super simplified gist of it is you mark grain lines on the RTW garment with thread, then use marked silk organza and about a million pins to trace seam lines and darts. Then you transfer those to tissue, true up your lines, and you’ve got a pattern of your RTW garment.

copying RTW F21 dress

If you’re interested in the more in-depth version of this, the book we used in class was “Making Garments from Existing Garments” by Kenneth King. It’s fairly in depth with lots of photos which makes the process pretty easy to follow. I believe his Jean-ius class on Craftsy uses the same technique if you’re a more visual learner. And of course, if you’re in the San Francisco Bay Area, you should just hop over to Canada College and take the class with Lynda Maynard because she’s fantastic. (Although I’m not sure if it’s offered every summer. Might be every other summer.)

In other news, these are my new favorite pockets and I want to add them to cardigans and other full-skirted dresses. You basically just cut them wider at the top edge than the bottom edge (like a trapezoid), but then stitch the side seams parallel so the excess from the top edge falls away from the garment.

Now excuse me while I go find some berries to pick. I have a sudden blackberry craving.

Adventures in patterndrafting // mystery fabric contest

Mystery Fabric Contest dress

Mystery Fabric Contest dress

Mystery Fabric Contest dress

Mystery Fabric Contest dress

Mystery Fabric Contest dress

Mystery Fabric Contest dress

Mystery Fabric Contest dress

Mystery Fabric Contest dress

My school hosts a mystery fabric contest every year. This year participants received a bundle of mystery fabric, each one marked only with a number and the general color scheme of the fabric inside. You have from October to April to put together a garment using at least 50% of each piece of fabric included. Some people received several yards of the same fabric. Other people (ahem, me) received mostly tiny samples, with nothing bigger than a fat quarter. You can add as much fabric as you want too!

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I was pretty stumped for a while after getting my bundle. At first I was thinking of doing something big and dramatic a la Regina from Once Upon A Time (season 1-2), with one side done in a cool patchwork pattern and the other side in a solid or floral print, but I kept coming back to a fear of it coming out looking like a quilt so I nixed that idea. Then one day when I was working on Cinderella’s ball gown while simultaneously daydreaming about doing Cinderella’s wedding gown (I am a crazy person, yes.), I had a lightbulb moment. Why not do a modernized party dress version of Cinderella’s wedding dress, but with the same floral/mesh/gauzy look?

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I started off drafting a pattern for a dress with an upper yoke in a sweetheart neckline shape. Since I knew I wanted to sew the upper yoke in mesh and since I wanted it to have a more formal party dress kind of look, I did a lot of contouring around the princess lines and sweetheart neckline to make it more form-fitting. Then I just used the same skirt pattern as my Christmas dress. Since a lot of the fabrics in my bundle were linens in earthy colors, I went for a similarly earthy (but still somewhat fancy-looking) linen from Joanns in ivory.

2016-01-28 22.01.26

Construction-wise, I started off by taking the three identical pieces of sheer gauzy curtain fabric and sewing them together as a dirndl underskirt. Then I tore off all of the sample rectangles and cut up the backing fabric into similarly sized rectangles and sewed them together into a long piece (similar to what I did for my Cinderella ball gown). I then pleated  those and attached them in two tiers to the underskirt so they would peek out a bit under the main dress.

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I’d had a hard time trying to figure out what to do with all of the thicker embroidered fabrics (especially ones where the background fabric clashed) so I decided to cut the embroidery out of the fabric and sew it onto my dress.

2016-03-24 13.06.28

One of them was some kind of burlap-ish canvas and had a floral vine pattern so I cut out the vines and used them as the base for the hand-stitched design. Then I cut the background fabric into little flower shapes and folded them slightly and stitched them all over the garment.

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You may also have noticed the gorgeous colorful embroidered flowers on the horrid mustard background up there. Since the mustard really didn’t fit with anything, I decided to cut out all those little designs too and sewed them all over the dress for little hidden bits of color. Some of the bigger pieces ended up on the side of the skirt too.

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The end!

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You can check out some of the other submissions here. Tiny spoiler alert: my dress won first place!