Tag Archives: outfit

Adventures in drafting // christmas dress 2016

velvet xmas dress

velvet xmas dress

velvet xmas dress

velvet xmas dress

OHAI. It’s been a while.

I realized the other day that while I’ve alluded to certain things, I haven’t actually talked about anything life-related in a while. So here’s a life update in a  nutshell:

Last year I decided that my old career was not exactly panning out to be what I wanted (a lot of this had to do with licensing regulations in California, but that’s boring and not sewing-related).  At the same time, I had signed up for a flat pattern class at the local CC just to have something to do while I looked for a new job after moving from Boston back to California. Pretty much by week 3 of the class I decided I was going to need to switch careers.  The next semester I signed up for a full class load. Now I’m finishing up my last semester (well, technically I’ll have one last class next semester) while interning as a pattern maker for a local designer.

So, lots of changes going on in the last year! Spoiler alert: I love it.

Anyway, full time school + internship + part time job means not so much time for blogging, which I really miss. I have a whole pile of clothes I’ve sewn in the last six months that need to be photographed. I keep being hesitant to do it because it’s too cold outside. And then I remember I used to do this in Boston, in the snow, in 30 degree weather. I’m shivering just thinking about it. -_-

ANYWAY, now that we’re all caught up, meet this year’s Christmas dress.

The backstory is that my friend kept buying these gorgeous velvet dresses from Anthropologie, and then we planned a weekend holiday trip and decided one evening we would wear velvet dresses. So I got on Pinterest and looked for velvet dresses and found this lovely one by Holly Willoughby.

Making the pattern was pretty straightforward. Move bust darts to waist and turn them into gathers, neckline yoke thing, V-front cutout that meets in the middle, puffed sleeve with gathers that don’t go all the way to the armhole. Since I was using velvet and didn’t want to bother with a separate lining, I made facings for the front and yoke to make it easier.

I used a cheapy stretch velvet from Fabrics ‘r Us because this was kind of an experiment. We’ll call it a Christmas muslin. It actually wasn’t that hard to sew together. I basted the tricky bits but other than that the pile of the velvet sort of acted like velcro and it mostly stayed put. I used stitch witchery for the hem and sleeve edge to avoid having a row of stitching. It stays put and I just think it looks nicer.

The beading was super fun and so quick now that I have a beading needle. I didn’t even bother buying new beads. I’ve done so many beading projects in the last few years that I have an assortment of extra beads and the original dress didn’t seem to have any distinct beading pattern so I just used what I had.

Anyway, I do kind of wish the insides were a little prettier (I was kind of rushed because this was one of two finals week procrastination projects) but I’m in love. It’s one of the comfiest fancy dresses I own and I’ve already worn it twice. The velvet makes it look dressy but the stretchy means more room for feasting.

Maybe I need one in green too..

 

 

Accidental Sashiko

Sashiko dress

Sashiko dress

Sashiko dress

Sashiko dress

Sashiko dress

There’s a funny story behind this dress. Several months ago I got one of those “Here are all the things your stash needs!” emails from Fabric.com and one of the fabrics pictured caught my eye. I forget the designer (I want to say Robert Kaufman but I might be lying) but it was this beautiful chambray with lines of thread running through it. I immediately thought of fun, simple, rustic-looking summer dresses. Except they were sold out of it in like five minutes because holy crap it was beautiful. The idea of those summer dresses stuck in my head though, so after I took Copying RTW and made the flower-picking dress pattern, I decided maybe I should make my own stitched fabric. By hand.

Meanwhile, I had also come across Japanese-style mending on Pinterest, which if you aren’t familiar with, you should check out immediately because it makes me want to “mend” all of my clothes, regardless of state of wear and tear.

Anyway, those two ideas squashed together and I grabbed some cotton crochet thread and the needle with the fattest eye I could find and started stitching away at the two yards of gorgeous cotton chambray I picked up at Stone Mountain and Daughter.

It took.. forever. At least two seasons of Arrow. (salmon ladder ftw)

When I was about 86% done, I showed it to a friend, who said “Oh! Are you doing sashiko?” My response was “No, I’m just stitching.” When I was about 92% done, I showed a photo of it to another friend, who said “I can’t believe you’re sashiko-ing your own fabric!” It was around then that I figured I should probably look up what sashiko was. Whoops. And then around 95% completion, a third friend recommended a sashiko needle, which I didn’t even know existed. And lastly, when I showed up in my pants drafting class (taught by Lynda Maynard, who had also taught the Copying RTW class), Lynda started telling me all about her sashiko machine.

Anyway, the moral of the story is that this took forever and I need to look into different needle types because I also didn’t know that beading needles exists. But that’s a whole other embarrassing story.

 

Toasty


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DSC_0483jacket: pattern here 

Was everyone keeping Waffle Patterns a secret from me??

I discovered them a while ago actually, and I remember my impression being that all of her samples looked impeccably, perfectly put together and that I loved the shapes of her garments but wasn’t sure I could pull them off. For some reason I was also worried her patterns might be a bit more hands off and geared toward more advanced sewers who don’t need much in the way of instruction.

Now, I would definitely say that Tosti is an advanced pattern, but she does hold your hand every step of the way. She has graphics illustrating literally every step and everything is marked clearly. Some of the trickier steps are even explained in further depth with photo tutorials on her blog!

The other thing I loved was that the way the pattern is drafted meant that I didn’t have to do much to the pattern before I started sewing. First off, the seam allowances are 1/2″, which I’ve gotten used to using when I draft. The sleeves were the perfect length on me (I have monkey arms and my wrists gets cold so I like my sleeves a little past the wrist bone), and the jacket itself is the perfect length on me! The shoulder seam is shifted to the front a bit so it sits on your actual shoulder. The only thing I had to change was to rotate the sleeve in the armhole a little because my shoulders point forward, which changes where I need extra fabric in the cap. I didn’t actually change the draft or anything, I just rotated everything about 3/4″ forwards and ignored the fact that notches/seams no longer match up. No one’s looking at my armpits anyway (hopefully). AND she’s included layers in the PDF so you can select which size(s) you want to print and only print those! I sewed a straight 38 so I just unclicked all the other sizes and only the lines (stitching lines and cutting lines) for the 38 showed up. She also gives you simple instructions for how to do this if you (like me) had no idea this was even a thing. (Why doesn’t everyone do this??)

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I started with a straight muslin where no changes were made. I did sew the first sleeve as indicated and noticed some poufing in the back so I sewed the second one rotated to compare. I was really thrilled with the way everything fit as drafted!

For my jacket, I knew pretty much immediately that I wanted one in a dusty navy color, with a plaid flannel lining and fur-trimmed collar. I got 100% navy cotton twill at Joann’s and I used a plaid flannel from my stash for the lining of the main coat. I was SO CAREFUL with my plaid matching except I completely forgot about it when cutting out my upper/lower pieces on the left side. Somehow I managed to get half the lines matched but it still bugs me.

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I lined the sleeves with a tan lining fabric from my stash (destashing ftw!) and while they feel great and my arms slide in super easily, I kind of wish I’d used a darker shade so there wasn’t such a stark contrast. Oh well. I also added plaid elbow patches to the sleeves because why not.

Concerning pockets: I think everyone knows I love pockets. Obviously you look at any of her samples and immediately notice “Wow, lots of pockets!” When I realized she’d included instructions for SIX different customizable pocket options I nearly died of happiness and wanted to try one of each. I decided to go with Pockets A (flap pocket on chest), B (zip pocket on opposite side of chest), C (bellows pockets with flaps), E (arm zip pocket), and F (double welt pocket on inside). And believe me, I only left out Pocket D because it would’ve been weird if the large front ones didn’t match.

Also, this isn’t included in the pattern PDF but she did post this tutorial on how to add a fur trim to the hood. I saw her jacket and immediately drooled all over the navy twill I bought. It was a bit of an adventure finding the right faux fur. At first I went to Britex but the only one they had that was remotely the right color family was slightly too greenish and was $75/yard fur with a cutting minimum of 1/2 yard. Fabric.com had the same cutting minimum and I really only wanted like 6″. Etsy was also a fail, since people were mostly selling giant pieces for baby photo shoot backdrops (weirdly specific). Eventually Joanns of all places came through and I picked up this gorgeous foxy faux fur that is super soft and goes so well with the blue. Fun tip: look for a faux fur that has modacrylic in it (mine is 10%). It mimics animal hair growth patterns, is super soft and realistic looking, and self-extingushing. (Thanks Textiles class!)

The snap buttons are from Joanns and were super easy to install. You do need to buy the little attacher thing but it was like $3, and then all you need is a hammer. The zippers were from an Etsy store and I had SUCH a hard time finding a long separating zipper that matched the tiny pocket zippers that I ended up just ordering tiny separating zippers for the pockets. It wasn’t ideal but you can’t tell. Next time I think I’ll just have to be ok with slightly mismatched pocket zippers.

When I bought the pattern I kind of assumed I wouldn’t need two utility jackets like this and would only make another if this one needed to be replaced, but with how well it fits and how often I’ve been wearing this one, I think I’ve changed my mind. I’m thinking of doing an unlined version in the traditional army green. And maybe a quilted ventless vest version in some kind of wool with the shorter collar and fur-less hood.

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 drafting // linen dragons

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This top completely unintentionally reminds me of Daenerys from Game of Thrones. I originally set out to copycat this top from Urban Outfitters and decided to use the leftover linen from my Mystery Fabric Contest dress. Somehow I ended up with a cute summery top that totally looks like something Khaleesi would wear if she were summering in modern day California.

This top, along with my off-the-shoulder tops, has basically been my uniform this summer, and I’ve been experimenting with different fabrics. The problem is that I feel like this linen is a little too stiff and sort of sticks out awkwardly from certain angles. But then I tried a much drapier fabric and it was too lightweight to hold its shape. I’ll have to keep playing. I did have to make a special bra to wear underneath which is basically a nude halter the same shape as the front.

Drafting was pretty simple. I drew lines, then contoured. The one thing I did differently that helped with fit was before I added the bias binding and straps, I put it on the dress form and pinned the straps and pleats into shape rather than trusting the lines. It ended up fitting pretty much perfectly that way.

Now back to fabric experiments.