Saturday, April 4, 2015

McCall's 6696 With Vintage Fabric

Happy Easter! 

I am so glad that it is finally starting to feel like spring here. Dress sewing has kicked into high gear!


This dress is my second version of McCall's 6696, which is unquestionably one of my favorite patterns lately.

[I'm still struggling with a variety of blog issues, so in the meantime, I've decided to continue on with my backlog of completed and photographed outfits. The show must go on!]


I made this version with some 1940s rayon fabric I purchased on Etsy.

The fabric is very soft and has a fantastic drape.

I originally bought it thinking that I could wear it with tights and a sweater for the end of winter, but as soon as the dress was complete, I realized that this dress is unequivocally a warm-weather dress. It's just too floaty and drapey for cold weather. And the fabric is quite thin, which will be nice when it starts to get hot. (And for swing dance!)


Overall, this fabric was fairly easy to work with. It is rayon, but it's not very shiny or shifty, so it was fine to work with.

The only trouble I had was picking a thread color!


I finally settled on dark grey as somewhat of a contrast.

The blue has so much white in it that none of my blue threads really looked "right" to me. Dark grey seemed a good compromise.


The top-stitching on this dress is not quite perfect (I'm not used to working with rayon) and the dark thread does help disguise that, which is a side benefit.


This dress is a little big in the waist -- more so that my other version, which is just comfortably loose. The interfacing in the waistband and placket is what I normally use for shirts, but, in retrospect, I should have used something lighter. The waistband sags a bit sometimes. Honestly, though, it's kind of a "look." It looks a bit more casual/drapey like that.


I also had trouble picking buttons. I went with white, but I might change them out at some point. They are a bit more of a contrast than I expected.


Overall, though, I like this dress! It's the first time I've worked with real vintage fabric, so that was really fun.

Have you all tried working with vintage fabrics? Where do you buy them?

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Brown Circle Skirt and a Blog Update

First, the nitty gritty: I have been delaying putting up a post for TWO WEEKS now because I have been locked in a battle with Disqus. I was so happy when I initially switched to Disqus comments, because Blogger has a nasty habit of eating comments (several readers complained of this before I switched -- and by "several," I mean three).

Well, Disqus has now eaten all but one comment!

I switched URLs a couple of weeks ago, finally purchasing www.theliveaboardtakesthesuburbs.com, and Disqus ATE all my comments in the switchover.

I have one more trick to try, since Disqus support has been so much less than helpful (it's been a bit rage-inducing, to be quite honest) and then I'm giving up and just saying goodbye to the 130-some comments I'd racked up over the past few years. Le sigh.


Anyway, enough turmoil.

I present a small sewing project to tide you over until my next real post.


I've made many circle skirts before. It's a silhouette I love and I find them both comfortable and flattering.


This one is made from brown twill I ordered from Mood.

[Note: This is not an affiliate link or anything fancy, but I am going to try to link to specific fabrics when I can from now on, because I frequently find myself wishing for such links while I am reading.]


That Pfaff top-stitching, though...

The "pattern" for this skirt is a stolen circle skirt pattern piece from Butterick 5748 and a big rectangle for a waistband. (Basically I made the waistband 3 inches wide and my waist measurement + 2 inches so I could use it to enclose the zipper.)


I serged the insides with black thread. I am trying to get better about buying a greater variety of serger thread in the interest of pretty guts (because pretty guts make me happy!) but I don't have any brown yet. 


I serged the hem and just turned it under and top-stitched for a narrow hem.


Voila! An easy-peasy work look. And it's almost warm enough here to wear it like this, without tights. Almost...

I'll keep ya'll posted on the comment situation. Let me know if you have any helpful hints!

Monday, March 2, 2015

McCall's 6696 Shirtdress in Scissor-Print Fabric

Hey there, hepcats! 


I made this dress with swing dancing in mind. I've mentioned before that Greg and I have been taking ballroom lessons. Well, we liked the swing unit of our ballroom class so much that we decided to try out lindy hop classes as well.

The swing scene where we live is very active -- we take class once a week and go social dancing at least once a week as well. It's really fun! (We take classes from this group, in case you're local and interested.)

By the way, the saddle shoes I'm wearing are swing shoes from dancestore.com. G.H. Bass & Co. makes similar shoes that are street legal. (Swing shoes have suede soles and are meant to be worn inside only. They will be very very quickly ruined if you wear them outside.)



The pattern for this dress is McCall's 6696. Finally! A shirtdress of my very own!

This pattern has definitely made the rounds in the blog world -- and with good reason. It is everything I could ever want in a shirtdress pattern. 


It features a nice, full skirt with pleats, a waistband, an option for belt loops and several sleeve options. There's also a straight skirt option, but we all know that I won't be making that one. :-P

The shirt styling is very traditional -- it includes a collar with a collar stand, and a button placket made from its own pattern piece (as opposed to the fold-over type). 

In the upper back, which is where most shirts have some pleating detail, there is a lovely gather, which is repeated above the waistband in the back. I think this is a very feminine detail. You could easily swap it out for a more traditional pleat, though, if that's more your style.


I think I might not have eased the sleeve caps correctly. In some pictures, including the one above, it looks like the sleeve heads are poofing strangely. I'll have to be careful with that if I make another version with sleeves!

In terms of sizing, this is a pattern with bra-cup sizing. I made a C cup bodice and graded from an 8 at the bust to a 10 at the waist. 

I could probably cut a straight 8 in this pattern -- the waist has a bit more ease than I normally use, but I find that comfortable for dancing. 


The button placement suggestion from the pattern does not have a button at the waistband so that there's room for a belt. But since I left off the belt loops here, and do not intend to wear a belt with this one, I rearranged the buttons so I'd have one at the waist. 


Speaking of buttons, these are vintage buttons from Etsy. Originally, I was going to use plain white shirt buttons, but I decided they didn't look quite right. I posted some different options on Instagram and Facebook and black was the clear winner in my informal poll.

These are plastic buttons from 1930. I chose them because I thought they nicely echoed the dots between on the fabric.


Speaking of the fabric, it's from Emma One Sock. Another blogger (I've forgotten who -- oops!) posted a picture of this fabric on Instagram and I asked where it came from and ordered it immediately. Sometimes you just know what you want!

The fabric is cotton blend that's a bit sheer and slightly stretchy.

I don't particularly mind the sheerness. I have on a very simple white cotton skirt slip under this and that, along with a nude-colored bra, is good enough for me.


I was unable to match the pattern perfectly, but the print is on a small enough scale that I think that's OK. 

This dress is definitely a favorite and I've already made another using this pattern and am about to cut a third. It's a winner in my book! Have you made up 6696 yet? Or are you abstaining from this particular blog trend? ;)


Reminder: I'd still love to hear your thoughts on my new series on sewing fiction! I'd so appreciate it if you'd stop by and leave a comment and let me know what you think of this idea. If you've already sent me some feedback, thanks! :)

Friday, February 27, 2015

Sewing Fiction: Six of Hearts

I get so excited when I discover a good book that features sewing, knitting or crafting.

Fun fact about me: I am a voracious reader. Completely insatiable. There are weeks when I easily read seven books.

Lately I've been on a romance novel kick, but I also love science fiction, fantasy, mysteries and young adult literature. I also read the occasional piece of literary fiction.

In the sewing blog community, there are a lot of different bloggers who review sewing books, but I confess that I am usually much less interested in these. I like a pretty book as much as the next girl, but I don't really buy/read many of these books.

What I do love is fiction. And I imagine some of you all feel the same. Or at least I hope so!

So I've decided to run an occasional blog series to highlight sewing (and knitting!) in fiction. All the books will be cataloged here -- and if you have a book you'd like to recommend, let me know!

The header for each of these posts will be "Sewing Fiction: Title." So if you aren't interested in book reviews, you can skip these posts.

Now! On to the review!



"Six of Hearts" by L.H. Cosway is what I would describe as a suspenseful, smart romance. (I love stories about people falling in love.)

By day, Matilda works as a legal secretary at her dad's law office, which handles mostly small-time cases. (By night, she spends quality time with her sewing machine.) The very handsome illusionist Jay (insert eyebrow wiggle) comes into the office looking for representation in a libel case. A newspaper has published an article insinuating that someone died as a result of one of Jay's illusions. Matilda's father refuses to take the case -- but when Jay says that he's looking for a room to rent, Matilda's father offers Jay the spare room, which had been recently renovated for just such a purpose. Matilda isn't sure how she feels about Jay living in the room next door, but it seems she doesn't have a choice.

I really enjoyed this book. It's a "new adult" book, which I think is a fancy way of saying that it contains explicit sex scenes, so if those bother you, you'll want to skip this one.

The writing is easy to understand and the book is an easy read. Which is good, because I was unable to put it down. There are some typos, at least in the Kindle version, but nothing terribly egregious that had an effect on my desire to read the book. (Disclaimer: I am a professional copy editor, so I notice this stuff.)

I recommended it to one of my (non-sewing) girlfriends last week and she's already finished it and also loved it.

If you're looking for something light that has a plot, some twists and turns, and a hefty dose of romance, I highly recommend "Six of Hearts."

The Details


Sewing

The protagonist in this book is a seamstress by night. She has an Etsy business where she sells her designs and she dreams of being a costume designer.

Plausibility of sewing

So-so. The book doesn't go into a lot of detail, but in the beginning of the novel, she wants a new sewing machine and is trying to save $800 for it. Her sewing machine proceeds to just... die. I mean... she's not going to try to have it repaired? I'm giving this one the side-eye.

Best sewing detail

She wears the dresses she makes and they flatter and are vintage inspired, which sounds like most of the sewing bloggers I follow! Also, he loves to sit with her while she sews. Which is just adorable.

Genre

Romance / New Adult

Other information

Check it out on Goodreads! [This is not an affiliate link. I just really like Goodreads.] 

Recommendation

Two thumbs way up.


I'd love to hear your feedback about this new feature -- positive and negative feedback are both welcome. Leave comments below or use the contact page to send me a more-private message. Thanks!

Saturday, February 21, 2015

New Look 6266 Button-Down in Mousey Grey Polka Dots

The recent button-down shirt/shirtdress trend in the sewing blog community?


Well I guess you can call me trendy, because I am all about this one.

I'm still very much interested in sewing more clothing for work and I've developed a bit of a uniform of skirt, button-down, cardigan and tights. Endlessly mix-and-matchable!


This is New Look 6266, which I've blogged about once before.

This time, instead of creating a hem that is split at the side seams as instructed, I sewed the seam shut all the way down.

I liked the split hem on my seersucker version for sitting, but the hem split tended to get folded up against my chair and get all wrinkly.


The one error I made on this version is that I didn't have/feel like making normal bias tape, I had quarter-inch bias tape masquerading as half-inch bias tape (ie it was double fold, but not folded in half, if that makes sense). So the underarm is bunching a bit more than usual because only about half of the seam allowance was folded under.

I didn't think it would make that much of a difference, but it totally did!


The fabric I used was a one-yard remnant of mouse grey fabric from Blackbird Fabrics. When Caroline posted on Instagram that she was selling off some remnants, I hopped on and saw this for $5.

I have had a lifelong obsession with polka dots and I adore anything grey.


I did all of my top-stitching with white thread and used opaque white buttons from JoAnn Fabrics -- they kind of look like giant polka dots, don't they?

On the inside, I finished all exposed seams by serging with white thread. I keep meaning to sit down with one of my sewing books and read about flat-felled seams, but I've been lazy.


I finished the hem with the same bias tape I used on the armholes. I do like the look of a bias tape hem and it preserves more of the length. 


I am definitely still in love with the top-stitching on my Pfaff. The stitches come out so clean and even. It makes me want to topstitch all the things!


I have another button-up blouse and a couple shirtdresses to share coming up here. Greg and I finally reordered the guest room so that we can take indoor winter pictures again (the guest room is the only room in our house with suitable natural light for blog pictures!) My apologies for the long absence! We photographed five outfits today, though, so get excited for some blog posts coming up. ;)

I'd love to know what you all think of the button-up trend -- and sewing blog trends in general. Are you all about them? Totally uninterested? Or somewhere in between?

Monday, December 29, 2014

A Classic Sewaholic Robson Trench Coat

I made a trench coat, ya'll!


This is definitely one of my proudest and most challenging makes of 2014 (the top slot, of course, goes to my wedding dress!) so prepare yourself for photo overload.

This is the Sewaholic Robson coat, made in a straight size 8 with no adjustments.


The fabric is a water-resistant cotton blend in "pumice stone" color from Mood Fabrics. The buttons also are from Mood. The buckle is from G Street Fabrics. Bias binding for the seams was purchased at my local JoAnn Fabrics.


Normally, I talk about the pattern first in blog posts, but the biggest challenge with this coat was the fabric, so I'll start there today.

The main quality that made this fabric desirable for a trench coat -- its water resistance -- made it a bear to sew. I used a heavy duty needle (several of them, actually -- more on that in a moment), and the machine really tried to make a go of it, but this pattern includes a ton of layers in some parts, such as the shoulder seam, so there was much cranking on the hand wheel to start those parts.


The fabric also tended to produce a kind of waxy dust when sewn, which I can only assume comes from the water-resistant coating.

Oddly, the fabric didn't seem to have any issues with ironing and lots of steam, although the fabric tended to trap steam, another hazard, I suppose of water-resistance. The main issue with ironing, though, was that the fabric refused to hold a crease.


The absolute biggest challenge with this coat was the buttonholes. They were a NIGHTMARE.

I had the coat all done up to the buttonhole stage, and I was feeling pretty proud of my work. I really took my time on making this coat nice. Up to the buttonholes.


The machine was just NOT having it with these buttonholes. It kept skipping half the buttonhole and making huge jumps in its stitching. I tried messing manually with the tension, with the stitch length -- with everything I could think of.

In despair, I posted a picture on Instagram and the ever-brilliant Brooke suggested that perhaps I needed a new needle. All of a sudden, my problem was fixed! I think I needed two more needles before the project was done. If I had to guess, I'd say that the coating on the fabric dulled or gummed up the needles.


It all worked out in the end, though.

Except for the part where I incorrectly placed all of the buttonholes, so there are some buttons sewn on top of buttonholes and some buttonholes that go separately through the main fabric and facing.

I think by the end, I was just exhausted. This project really took a lot out of me.


The only "change" I made to the pattern was to pick up a buckle for the belt. The buckle came from G Street and was fairly inexpensive. I just sewed it on to the end of the belt.


It doesn't exactly match the buttons, and looking at these photos, either the beltloops are uneven, or I didn't pull the coat down correctly. I'll fix it sometime. Maybe. Never.


One of the coolest things about this pattern is the opportunity to use a fun contrast bias binding on the seams. The coat has no lining, which I appreciated, because the number of layers I had without the lining was enough for me!


I used a bright blue for a pop of color. Don't tell anyone, but there is a slightly different bright blue on the insides of the sleeves. I bought the wrong color on my third trip to JoAnn for more bias binding.

I definitely needed much more bias tape than the pattern recommended, that's for sure.


The pockets seemed oddly placed to me at first glance, but I started surreptitiously examining the trench coats on my morning commute (creeper status!) and I discovered that most trench coats have these pockets. I had ample opportunities to examine a large variety of trench coats because it seems as though they are the go-to for commuters in the fall here.


I had a bit of trouble getting the sleeve to ease nicely, but at this point, I'm just calling it a feature.


I am super proud of this project -- and glad to finally have my own trench coat -- but boy am I glad to call it finished! Do you ever have projects like that? I made a nice, simple skirt after this and it felt like a breath of fresh air!

Tuesday, December 23, 2014

A Christmas New Look 6223 in Winter Cardinals Fabric

Happy holidays, readers! 


Over Black Friday, I shopped a bit online, including at Modcloth, which so helpfully let me know it was having a sale.

Now, we all know that nearly all 100 percent cotton dresses at Modcloth are made from easily attainable quilting cotton, right?

I saw a dress made from this winter cardinals fabric and just had to have it. I found the fabric online at Hancock's of Paducah (which had the best price -- $5! -- but did trigger a fraud warning on my credit card since it's apparently a local store in another state!) The fabric is Timeless Treasures Season's Greetings Winter Cardinals in ivory.


It's a lovely drapey quilting cotton.

The bodice is lined in plain white lawn, which I buy at least 5 yards at a time. I line nearly everything with white cotton lawn!

All in all, the fabrics were perfect for a structured dress like New Look 6223.



New Look 6223 is a favorite basic pattern of mine -- though I may need to buy a second copy the next time New Look patterns are on sale, because I seem to have misplaced the sleeve piece. Originally I wanted to do this dress up with cap sleeves, similar to my Oscar de la Renta dress, but I went without after I couldn't find the sleeve piece. (I know, I know, Frankenpattern, etc., but as I've said before, homegirl ain't got time for all that! it's just not fun for me.)

The pattern is exceedingly simple. It's a six-dart bodice with a pleated skirt. In this case, I gathered the skirt instead of pleating. I also forgot to put in the pockets (I now have two white lining-fabric pockets on my cutting table). Woops. 

I cut an 8 at the bust and graded to a 10-12 at the waist. I left a bit of extra ease in the waist since I wanted to wear this dress dancing. 


I didn't bother pattern-matching in the back or at the waist (I am of the opinion that matching a pattern like this across the waist just looks wrong and I just didn't feel like matching on the back seam and wasting fabric). The only pattern adjustment I made was to be sure I wouldn't have two red cardinals placed in, shall we say, compromising positions on my chest. 

This dress was an easy make -- I spent my afternoon in my sewing room on Saturday and worked on it while watching "Rehab Addict" on Netflix and I was finished in no time. 



In fact, I wore this dress for the first time Saturday night to a ballroom dance. We have monthly social ballroom dances at the place we take classes. With my small cotton crinoline underneath, it was perfect for an evening of dancing. (I know it probably seems strange to wear a sleeveless dress with no stockings in the middle of winter, but trust me when I say that after a couple hours of dancing in a well-lit art gallery, you'll be sweating!)


I plan to wear this again with black tights and a cardigan for a Christmas Eve showing of The Nutcracker as well.

When I wear it, with the red, green and gold colors, I feel festive!


Even when it's cold outside!

Do you have Christmas sewing plans? I'd love to hear about them!

Merry Christmas and a happy new year to you all. <3