Thursday, October 31, 2013

Things I've Sewn Lately: Groomsperson Dress

As promised, I put together a short post on the dress I made for myself for Andrew and Caren's wedding. 

I used Butterick B 5748 again, which is a reproduction pattern from 1959. It's super simple -- just a scoop neck with a low scoop back and a circle skirt with a full lining.

The directions we got for picking dresses were pretty simple: knee-length, sleeveless dresses in the wedding color. Rather than buy one, I made my dress (and I also made one for a friend.)

I loved my first version of B 5748 and I knew it would be great for dancing and comfortable for an all-day event, so it was an easy choice.

For the reception, I wore my off-white Cake Patterns Pavlova top. During the ceremony, I wore a little bow belt I made up, but I took it off when I put on the sweater and it didn't make it into these pictures -- woops! 

I also put on flats for the reception. I had super cute Michael Kors nude pumps for the ceremony, and I thought I'd wear them for more of the reception, but the lawn where we took pictures was pretty wet and muddy and I ended up standing on my toes for the entirety of pre-wedding picture time so that I didn't sink into the lawn, so flats were definitely in order by the time the ceremony was over. 

I'm also wearing my paternal step-grandmother's pearl necklace and absolutely gorgeous pearl earrings given to the ladies in the bridal party by the bride and groom. 

The only change I made from the last time I made this dress was to put the zipper in the center back, rather than the side. I enclosed the zipper in the lining, a la Sewaholic Cambie.

I also got to use my chalk hem marker for the first time. That thing is fun! I snagged it from JoAnn's with a 50 percent off coupon a couple weeks ago and it definitely made marking the hem on a circle skirt much much simpler!

I don't know how much wear I'll get out of this dress since it's a shiny cotton sateen, but it was a great fit for the wedding and I had a lot of fun making both groomsperson dresses!

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Unselfish Sewing: Kwik Sew 3486

This past weekend was the wedding of my dear friend Andrew and my new friend (!) Caren. It was a beautiful ceremony, and I was honored to be part of it. 

My lovely friend Christine and I were groomspeople for the wedding and, being me, I decided to make my dress. (I'll drop a short post on my dress later this week -- it's a remake of a pattern I've already blogged, so not very exciting.)

Christine, being seven months pregnant, was having a hard time finding a dress, so I offered to make her one, too! 

This was my first time making a dress for someone else, so I conned her into letting me take a ton of pictures.

The fabric is stretch cotton sateen from Mood and, at $10 a yard, was a real bargain. Since I was making two dresses of the same fabric, I got matching serger thread.

For Christine's dress, I used Kwik Sew 3486, which is a maternity pattern. The pattern is great and the instructions are lovely. HOWEVER. If you're going to make this, save yourself some heartache and get a paper copy. Neither local JoAnn's carried this pattern and, on a time crunch, I bought a PDF (twice -- oops) instead of ordering a printed pattern. Kwik Sew, I love you, but why, oh why, do you have such scary DRM? Print Sew is a nightmare! Never again will I buy a digital Simplicity pattern, that's for sure.

The dress is a faux wrap top with an empire waist, a gathered skirt and ties. It also uses facings, which was another new thing for me. I've never used armhole facings before.

I had her measure herself and I made a muslin out of a thrifted bedsheet. The muslin fit fairly well, so I went ahead with minor adjustments and had Christine try on the final product at the rehearsal luncheon. (That's major trust, right there!)

The top could have fit a little better -- you can see some gaping in the photo above -- but I think that might be partially due to the fact that fitting someone at seven months pregnant is a bit of a moving target. Or maybe I'm just trying to make myself feel better!

I ordered some zippers from Mood that looked like a match, but they were much too green, so I sent Greg out to get some new zippers from G Street at the last minute and he got the saleslady to help him choose a color. That man is a trooper. Normally I hate on G Street because it's pretty expensive, but it does carry a huge selection of zippers in many colors -- much more reliable than JoAnn's. I may not like G Street for fabric very much, but it's great for notions!

I wish I'd snapped a few pictures of the inside of the dress. This may be the best garment I've ever done in terms of clean finishes on the inside. I actually feel really smug about how well it came out. Too bad Christine probably won't get to wear it again!

Christine looked beautiful (which had little to do with the dress!) and I got to try out my skills on someone other than myself. It was a really fun project.

 In general, it was a great wedding and I had so much fun hanging out with friends I don't get to see often enough. And a huge thanks to Christine for being my guinea pig!

Thursday, October 17, 2013

Things I've Sewn Lately: Sewaholic Minoru Jacket

This past weekend was one of my favorite events of the year: the United States Sailboat Show in Annapolis, Md. The Boat Show, as everyone I know calls it, is the oldest and largest in-water boat show. Basically, they haul in tons of extra floating docks, tie it up to City Dock in Annapolis and dock hundreds of boats. In addition to the boats, they also have large tents filled with boating goodies. 

It's basically sailing paradise. Where else are you going to see million-dollar boats, composting toilets, inflatable life rafts and jewelry made from navigational charts for sale all at once? Plus, I always see a good number of people I know. The local sailing community is not large. 

Two years ago, I took Greg to the show; he was really excited to go back, so I called my dad and got him to meet us. 

I wore my new Sewaholic Minoru jacket to the show -- we were just getting over a week of rain, so it was cloudy and slightly chilly -- and took some pictures on the outer docks.

I made the jacket from $8-a-yard grey twill from the Garment District in NYC along with some $4-a-yard polyester lining and notions from Sil Thread. All in all, this was a very economical make, considering I got a coat out of it. I think I probably spent less than $40 altogether.

I cut a straight size 8 and didn't bother to make a muslin -- this is my sixth Sewaholic make and I haven't yet needed to make fit adjustments to a pattern, so I just went with it. The only change I made was to line the hood.

If I make it again, I'll probably leave out the inside breast pockets. I don't think I'll ever use them. I'd probably also add some outside pockets. I didn't think it would bother me not to have pockets for my hands, but I found myself reaching for them all day.

My dad's one comment -- after entreating me to make one for him -- was that the collar looked overly floppy. In fact, I believe his words were, "it looks like a wind funnel!" I could definitely see putting some interfacing in there to make it stand more stiffly next time, but it doesn't bother me too much.

I also could have done a better job with my topstitching. I'm still working on producing consistently pretty topstitching. I also had trouble lining up the jacket and the lining, so there's a not-so-pretty bit on the inside neck seam that I was thinking I might cover up with ribbon. Or I might not.

But in general, I really love this jacket and I could definitely see myself making it again. It's really comfortable and very warm. And I think it's really flattering, too!

On our way out of the boat show, we discovered a large booth filled with sewing machines.

These machines were awesome! They're meant for heavy-duty work, like sailcloth and sunbrella-type fabric. I was oohing and aahing when the salesman came over and gave us a demo. (Meanwhile my dad tried to show me off to the salesman and told him all about my coat -- only slightly embarrassing!)

Anyway, these do a straight stitch and a zigzag and I was watching him punch through some pretty impressive layers. Above he's attaching leather piping to sunbrella fabric.

And this is something like 16 layers of sailcloth with a piece of sail tie (the blue thing.) The amazing thing about this machine was its built-in walking foot. That thing fed like a champ. And only $800 or so. There was a crowd of folks coming through the booth who had all sorts of questions and comments for the salesmen, so I imagine these machines are widely used among the DIY boating community -- and I can see why. It's probably cheaper to buy an $800 machine and make new cushions or what-have-you than it is to pay someone else to do it.

Anyway, the boat show is always a great time and I'm really glad to have had an excuse to wear my new jacket!

Friday, October 11, 2013

Bits, Bobs, Works in Progress and a Knitting Project

It is all groomsperson dresses over here there days. Groomsmaid? Groomswoman? Basically I'm standing up for the groom, who is one of my closest friends, at a wedding. (If you've been reading for a long time, you might recognize the groom, my friend Andrew.)

Luckily the bride and groom are really chill and said we can either buy dresses from David's Bridal in Malibu (the color, not the place) or we could get something the same color from somewhere else. All they wanted was knee-length and sleeveless. I can totally work with that! 

Of course I chose the latter option and had that "somewhere else" be Mood Fabrics. 

Mood had a gorgeous cotton sateen in a VERY close color for $10 a yard and last time I was in NYC, I bought tons of white cotton lining fabric from one of the cheapy fabric stores, so I had plenty of that on hand. (It's sick how cheap those places are -- I think my white cotton lining was like $5 a yard for 60-inch fabric.) 

Mood fabric on the bottom, David's Bridal swatch on the top. Brooke at Custom Style assured me via Instagram that the fabric was close enough since the dresses would be on different people; and if anyone knows what she's talking about with this stuff, it's Brooke. Thus reassured, I ordered enough to make Butterick B5748 again. I really like that dress -- so comfy and cute. Plus, I figured the shininess of the sateen would make it nice enough for a wedding. 

Unfortunately, the zipper I bought does not quite match. It's going to be closed into the lining, so only the pull will be visible, but I went to the trouble of getting matching serger thread and everything, so it's a bummer my zip doesn't quite match up. Can't decide if I should go with the unmatched zip or go with white. 

Also trying to decide between a self-covered belt or a bow belt. I'm leaning toward the bow. And shoes. I'm thinking nude pumps? So many decisions. So little time. Feel free to weigh in in the comments. 

All I need to do is put in a zipper, make the belt and hem the skirt. And give it a wash since I can see the yellow chalk marker I used through the dart lines.

At the bachelor party, I found myself offering to make a dress for one of the other groomspeople, the sister-in-law of the groom; she also is a good friend of mine and she happens to be six months pregnant. (Don't mind my dummy, which isn't quite the right size for this dress, which is why the bust area looks so baggy.)

I'd been wanting to make something for someone else just for a challenge -- and who better than your petite pregnant friend!

Because I was nervous about the fit, I went all out with the muslin, using a sheet from the thrift store and an invisible zipper harvested from a wadder.

Luckily it needed very minimal adjustments. A little out of the center back and sides and it should fit perfectly!

The pattern I used is Kwik Sew 3486 and let me tell you about buying it as a PDF and having the. worst. time. ever. with the printing. The DRM on the Kwik Sew/Simplicity patterns is mind-boggling. Had I not needed the pattern so quickly, I'd have ordered it, since neither local JoAnn's carried it, but with only a month to the wedding and a need to fit the dress ASAP, I went PDF. Never again. Print Sew sucks.

Luckily, it turned out cute and my friend liked it. Phew! 

Lyra has been helping me with the dresses. Look at those hound eyes! And that little teal snippet on her nose! Oh the cuteness. I die.

My entire sewing space is COATED in teal thread, by the way. And, apparently, so is my dog! (It's a good color for her, don't you agree?)

I also decided recently to teach myself to knit. I've always wanted homemade sweaters since I'm super sensitive to wool, and, being unable to convince my mom to make them for me, decided to just go for it. This above is the Miss Marple scarf. Next up? A Miette sweater in chocolate brown. Wish me luck! If you're on Ravelry and want to be friends, check me out!

Saturday, October 5, 2013

Things I've Sewn Lately: Hollyburn Skirt With Jeans Styling

Hello, Hollyburn! 

My love affair with Sewaholic patterns continues with the Hollyburn skirt.

I knew, as soon as I saw the pattern, that this would be a good silhouette for me and I love a good denim skirt. I made a denim Ginger (Colette Patterns) but I wore it pretty much nonstop for a year and I wanted something new!

This denim was purchased at Mood during my recent trip. It's a lovely, slightly stretchy denim with a dark wash.  I purchased a some super cute buttons for this skirt at Mood; they had anchors on them. But in the first wash, they started to shed their brown color. Really sad. Happily, I had two matching brown buttons in my button collection to replace them with.

I cut this skirt in an exact pattern size (8) and it was perfect. No alterations, no nothing. The instructions were very simple to follow.

Hilariously, the top I'm wearing in these pictures was purchased a couple of years ago on the spur of the moment after I spilled an entire waste toner cartridge on my white blouse and still needed to head to a second job. Woops! Trust me -- waste toner is not a good addition to an outfit. ;)

I used some gold thread from Sil Thread in NYC to top-stitch this skirt and give it a jeans look.

I'm pleased with the way it came out, though I wish it hadn't given me so much trouble in the layered bits. The machine was protesting a small amount at some points. But I won in the end.

Here's a closeup of the top-stitching. I love the way it came out. And yay for my new FitBit bracelet! If you're a FitBit user, we should be FitBit friends. :)

Anyway, I highly recommend this pattern. Like all Sewaholic patterns, it's well-drafted and has great instructions.

Wait... what's that? A puppy wanting to join the photoshoot?