Of course I’d rather be sewing, but I’ve had a whiny toddler in a cast for the past three weeks, so all my sewing has been virtual.
Lately I’ve been reading the Collette Wardrobe Architect series. One of the things that I’d love to do better is sew things that better reflect my style. When I sew for my self, I find I’m using the wrong fabric, sewing for the wrong shape, or just playing it too safe. Basically, I’m ending up with the wrong clothes. And yet, when I go shopping, that doesn’t seem to happen as often.
So I went virtual shopping at Polyvore, dreamed up some imaginary outfits, and now I’m going to try to match them up to real patterns (hopefully ones I already own) and maybe, eventually, sew some of them up. Can you help? I’ve matched these up as best I can, but maybe you see a better match. Let me know in the comments, if you do.
As a web developer in real life, I don’t have to wear a suit, but I do have to look serious at meetings. Black is always good, and it’a colour I like. For this I was thinking the Archer shirt. But the skirt is tough. I haven’t really seen many asymmetric skirts. There is this one on Burdastyle, but it isn’t really the same.
Not sure about this one. It’s Lanvin and sells for $3,000. I can safely say I am unlikely to ever spend that much on a single piece of clothing. But it sure is pretty. It’s a little like the BurdaStyle Cowl Dress 10/2012 #118A, but there must be a better match with a similar neckline, no?
So that was my imaginary sewing. Can you tell I miss having the time to sew? And thanks in advance for any help you can offer in tracking down patterns that are a better for than what I’ve found.
You may have seen that the Pantone colour of the year, for 2014, is Radiant Orchid. I was so excited when I saw the colour, because for the last couple of years, the colour of the year has been just a little outside of my colour palette, and finally, this year, it isn’t.
But what to sew?
I have been hoarding this beautiful piece of Bromley voile from Warp & Weft, in just the right shade of purple. It’s really pretty and very soft.
I had just the pattern in mind. This summer, Jeni Baker of In Color Order was one of the stops on The Staple Dress Blog Hop. It featured The Staple Dress by April Rhodes and I was lucky enough to win their giveaway.
The Staple Dress, is a super simple, whip-up-in-a-day, pattern. There are only a few pattern pieces, no darts, little fitting, no closures and no fussy details. I made the version with the straight hem and with pockets. (Who wouldn’t add the pockets?)
The toughest part was adding the elastic thread shirring. I’ve used thistechnique before and it was a breeze.
I received the paper pattern, but you can also get the pattern as a PDF. I prefer paper, since I don’t have to tape things together and the instructions come in a handy booklet.
I found the instructions very easy to follow and extremely thorough. This is definitely a good project for a beginner. It’s hard to go wrong.
I made the large, though the finished measurements said it might be snug. I wanted to be sure that the dress wasn’t too blousy, especially with a fabric that doesn’t have too much drape, and the unstructured design of the Staple Dress. In the end there was plenty of room.
The only problem I had was that the waist is really high (by design). The high (but not empire) waist ended up being very unflattering on a curvy, long-waisted girl like me. So I had to undo the shirring and move it all down, and I moved the pockets down as well by three inches.
The only other thing I changed was to make the dress a bit shorter. I’m 5’5″, and I ended up shortening the dress by 2 inches. I also made the dress hem a wide one, instead of the recommended narrow one, in case I change my mind about that shorter skirt later on.
Would I make this again? Yes. It’s super easy to sew. Though I think next time I would either use a draper fabric, maybe even a knit (you can see some examples here and here) in a smaller size, or add darts, for a bit more shaping. But overall, I’m pretty happy with the results. It’s a nice, simple, comfortable dress, that I can just throw on, and that fits well with my lifestyle. And of course, it’s the perfect colour for 2014.
Modifications: I lowered the pockets by 3 inches, lowered the waist shirring, shortened the dress by 2 inches, and used a wide hem.
Results: A quick and easy project that would be great for a beginner.
C’est orchidée la couleur Pantone de 2014, alors voici une petite robe très simple pour commencer la nouvelle année. Le patron est ‘The Staple Dress’, un projet à fabriquer dans un après-midi, et apte pour même les débutants.
I have been slowly rebuilding my wardrobe with some basic everyday clothing. After four pregnancies, all pretty close together, my wardrobe is in rough shape. I’ve also changed shape, and so my old clothes just don’t fit right. Rather than battle the clothes racks with four kids in tow, I’ve decided to make what I can.
This is my latest project, the Ginger skirt by Colette. It’s a simple, high-waisted a-line shirt, fitted in the hips with an invisible zipper.
I used a super soft baby cord, which is the same fabric I used to make pants for my kids. They think this is hilarious. Ha! Just wait till high school, kids.
I cut the size 18, based on my waist measurements, but I ended up taking in two inches, and I could have taken it a bit more in the hips. Next time, I’ll cut a 14, graded out to a 16 waist.
At first I thought the 18 looked ok. But it wasn’t lying smooth over the front of my hips. So I scoured the internet looking for similar body shapes, in the same skirt, and with the same problem, and they all had their skirts quite low on the waist. So I raised the waist and took in the sides and the skirt fit so much better. It was a whole new garment. I’m honestly not used to such a high-waisted skirt. Most ready-to-wear a-line skirts are designed to sit lower, but I do like the look. Next time, I’ll also take the skirt in a little more in the hips.
Adjusting the fit was quite easy. So if you are a bit larger than the largest size (or smallest than the smallest size), you shouldn’t have too much trouble grading up (or down) a size or two and still getting good results.
I made version 3, which has a straight waistband , and is cut on the bias. With baby cord, the results are not quite as dramatic as the chevron stripe pattern shown on the pattern packaging, but it does make for a really nice hanging skirt. Even my husband mentioned that it hung really nicely, and with no prompting (!!!). Using baby cord also means you don’t need to worry about matching the stripes.
The skirt has an invisible zipper, which went in really easily.
I added some very thin tricot interfacing to the skirt before adding the zipper, to stabilize it. But because the skirt was cut on the bias, it was still a little stretchy, so I also used bias tape on the seam edges, a suggestion from a couture sewing book, and this worked very well.
Hemming was a bit of an adventure. I let the skirt hang for a few days before I started. I had read how Sunni of A Fashionable Stitch has Mr Stitch help her with her hemming. So I gave it a shot. I can now confirm, that while Mr Garment has many superpowers, garment hemming is not one of them. He’s pretty good with compliments though (see above). Needless to say, I had to re-hem. Luckily, my hems usually fall pretty straight, so I guess I’ll just continue t0 hem on my own. I think next time, I’ll go a couple inches shorter as well. What do you think?
I didn’t line the skirt and simply zigzagged the seams. It’s a corduroy skirt, after all.
At first I was a bit shocked by the price of the pattern. I paid $18, which, for a simple a-line skirt pattern, is a lot. (You can get the PDF version for $12, which is better). But I wanted to try a Collette pattern (this is my first), and it was a gift as well (though I picked it out myself). I’ve found that the fit is really quite nice, and I will use the pattern again, so overall, still a worthwhile purchase.
I really like this pattern. It has a really nice fit, and is quick to sew, but also has a lot of room for creativity, if you are feeling up to a challenge. I’ll almost certainly make it again.
You know when you finally finish that great pattern that looks super cute on everyone (everyone!), and then you put it on and it looks just terrible (truly!) on you. That.
It’s possibly not a total fail. I am hoping that later tonight after a couple glasses of wine, it can be upgraded to “wearable” (sigh). Possibly it will have to be (double sigh) up-cycled. And no, no photos yet. It’s raining and I am unmotivated to wrestle dress, light, camera and photobombing toddlers into place.
I am especially discouraged because I dutifully made up a muslin. I even muslined the sleeve (the &^&%#$#ing sleeve folks!), which fit well, by the way. And I tried it on as I was sewing, and only when I got to the buttons (arrrrrrgh!) did it become apparent that this would not be wearable. And it isn’t even the pattern, or the fit, it is that style on my body. Did I mention the fabric had an especially nice drape? @%$#*!
Eventually I will share photos. (And no, it is not the men’s shirt that I’m also working on).
To borrow from Mad Men, you might put a Betty in a Joan dress, but you can’t really put a Joan in a Betty dress. And I am clearly in the Joan camp. And this is a Betty dress.
For the record I am in the rectangular/hourglass camp, and curvy on top. Let’s just say that the FBA is a good friend of mine 😉 And I still have a bit of baby belly to work on (four kids will do that to you). In other words, I am human.
So while I wait for a less rainy day, I thought I would take the time to jot down a few styles which I have proven do not look good on me, so that when a new and exciting pattern comes out I can check this list and remind myself that the following do not look good on me. (Though they may be smashing on you, in which case, carry on, nothing to see here).
What Looks Bad On Me
peter pan collars
pussy bow blouses
fitted capris and short shorts
high waisted bodices with gathered skirts
short and cropped and/or boxy jackets
tiny upper pockets
tea-length skirts, unless quite fitted
anything with gathering at the bust
low v-necks (a bit too “hey mister!”, if you know what I mean)
details that are too small
ruffles (often but not always)
You know the patterns I’m talking about!
And this is what I should remind myself to get instead, possibly along with some new fabric in my colour palette.
What Looks GoodOn Me
long, fitted tops
a-line (most of the time)
longer, tailored jackets
cowl necks, square necks, scoop necks
shift dresses, especially with sleeves
wrap dresses (when they have enough coverage)
boot cut jeans, skinny jeans
flat front pants
I also have a request of you, dear reader. Which sewing bloggers do you know, who are shaped like yours truly?
I feel like I should be following more people who sew things that look good on a me-shaped body and that I should find some more kindred souls so that it is less tempting to copy the super cute, petite and/or waiflike sewists stitching up some terribly adorable peter pan collars and such. (And that is sincerely not meant as a slight to the peter pan collar or the petite sewist! Do carry on!)
So send your links my way so I have something to read with my glass of wine tonight. Bonus points if you can suggest some great curve-friendly patterns.
So where have I been, you may be asking? Each I year I co-organize an open source tech conference. It was on June 29-30. It is huge and crazy and getting through the pile of laundry afterwards is an amazing feat. But I am officially back in my usual, crazy, mum-of-four swing of things.
My first job has been to tame the email, and what was awaiting me there? A prize!
Yes, I am one of the official winners of the shorts on the line giveaway. My prize is the Kid Shorts by MADE. It looks really cute and I can’t wait to try it out. And since it fits kids 12 months to size 10, that means I’ll have to make four. Shorts, shorts, shorts! Thanks to Rachel of Imagine Gnats and Carla of Small + Friendly for organizing both the Shorts on the Line contest (which I also entered) and the giveaway. And thanks to Dana of MADE for donating the prize.
And what else did I get to now that life is getting back to normal… the fabric store!
It’s about 40 degrees with the humidex during the day here in Montreal – unbearably hot and humid. I kept seeing all the local mums in these fabulously comfortable jersey maxi dresses. I’ve been having babies for so long now that my (non-maternity) wardrobe is just pitiful, so I figured it was time for some summer sewing for me.
This is some really soft, really spongey bamboo jersey and McCall’s M 6760. The photo makes the fabric look darker than it is. It’s actually a medium grey and medium-weight. Now that I’ve blogged it I will be forced to sew it. No procrastinating allowed!
I know, I know, all the dresses on the pattern envelope are made of georgette or some other airy fabric, but definitely not knit fabric. But there it was on the back of the envelope, “jersey”.
And the bonus is that with jersey, I won’t need to line it or use an invisible zipper. I’m just a bit concerned that the jersey might be a bit heavy and weigh too much on the waistband, but we will soon find out. The waistband is meant to be interfaced, but then it won’t be as comfortable. Hmmm. dilemma, dilemma. I love the fabric, but I could also do a glorified t-shirt maxi dress instead. Maybe a bit dull, in grey though. What would you do? Suggestions welcome.
I can’t show them all, so here are the ones I’m most likely to sew.
There is a nice blouse (Style 3351) from the early 1980s, but it’s got 1970s styling. There is McCall’s 3296, which is a bias-cut skirt. There is also a fishtail version, but I think I’ll stick with the classic a-line skirt. Another good one is Simplicity 7254, an apron from 1975. I can’t believe I have no apron patterns at all, and yet I am in need of an apron.
This is another one that looks nice. McCall’s 5861, from 1992 includes a tank top and dress with Made-For-You A-B-C-D cup sizing. I think it might make a nice summer dress.
But the real gems are in the children’s patterns. Here we have Simplicity 7412, from 1976. Clearly, it’s a first communion dress, but without the capelet (and maybe a bit more length) it’s quite cute. Then there is this French pattern for a jumper by Modes et travaux. And my favourite is the boys pyjamas. They are pull-on with no buttons! My kids are pretty allergic to buttons, and this pattern has a really nice, unique neckline.
And finally, these were the most unusual kids’ patterns. I’m not sure I’ll be sewing them, but the 1950s styling is interesting. First there is Butterick 7602, a pull-on shirt. I’ve never seen a shirt with this type of neckline. Next is Simplicity 1785, a child’s mandarin pyjamas and robe. So 1950s! And finally a ski suit: Simplicity 4636.
A big thank you to both the Easter bunny and my husband’s aunt (name omitted to protect her from the notoriety of sewing blog fame )!
It’s similar to Colette‘s seasonal colour palettes, but more long-term. The idea is that once you know what your colour palette is, you can better choose what to make.
These are the colours I like the most, and that I enjoy wearing. I can see the lime, turquoise and ballerina pink fitting in with a spring wardrobe, while the chocolate-brown and tangerine would work well for fall.
I did a second colour chart with fabric swatches from some of the nicer online fabric stores. It definitely confirmed that I was on the right track. You should try it!
This colour palette is more aspirational than actual. I’ve had four kids in the last 7 years, which means that most of my wardrobe consists of maternity wear. I’m starting at square one. It’s liberating and frustrating at the same time.
It’s liberating because I can justify making a lot of clothing. Yay! But frustrating because a lot of what I see on online sewing blogs, while beautiful and inspirational, just isn’t me.
In a similar vein, you can also read how this blogger (sallieoh) inspired this blog post by Joanne at Stitch and Witter, which in turn inspired this other blog post by Sunni at a Fashionable Stitch about embracing your own personal style. I’m not sure which article is the most inspiring, or if the real inspiration is the blogosphere cross-pollination.
I’m starting with colour. I like bold colours. I like stripes and houndstooth and strong geometric patterns, but I like solids even more, especially black. I like tailored clothing that is inspired by street wear and menswear. I like asymmetrical, minimalist, and modern. (You can see some Pinterest fashion inspiration here and here.)
So you won’t see a lot of peter pan collars, or tiny florals around here, but that just means you’ll see a lot more of me.