Velvet Gothic Dress: Halla Patterns dress

Another dress that I made a while ago is this velvet dress from Halla Patterns. I don’t like the name of the pattern. A kimono is a specific cultural garment from Japan and, while this dress may have a kimono sleeve and be inspired by kimonos, it is not a kimono and I will not be referring to it as such. Please read this post and I encourage you to follow @little_kotos_closet on Instagram. In the past, I have maintained the name of the pattern, but going forward I will not. I realize that makes it more difficult for people to search for my post if they are looking for others that make the pattern. I’m just hoping that going forward, there won’t be this issue. The Wiksten jacket has already been renamed to the Wiksten Haori jacket.

In November, the Toronto Sewcialists met up and had a fancy dress party with a sewing session before. I wasn’t initially going to make a new item for the fancy dress party, but then I bought this gorgeous velvet fabric from a local store, Fabric by Designers, that was going out of business but managed to extend their lease again so they are back in business. I managed to grab 4 yards of this velvet fabric for a decent price along with some ponte and doubleknit in their sale. I love this fabric. It’s soft and drapes so nicely. It washes really well, too.

I had also just put the Halla dress pattern together and then got a vision in my head of a floor length dress with voluminous sleeves. The resulting dress is gorgeous, moody af, and makes me think that I should be wondering the North York moors of Yorkshire, England, singing Kate Bush’s Wuthering Heights. Fun fact, I’m actually first gen Canadian on my dad’s side and he was born in Yorkshire. He also immigrated to Canada on a boat in the late 50s. I haven’t ever been to Yorkshire sadly. I hope to one day, though.

I made a size 28 graded to a 30 at the waist. I changed the skirt to a longer and slightly narrower skirt. It still has a lot of volume but not quite as much as the original pattern. I left off the pockets since they interrupted the drape of the skirt.

Here I am surprised by the ghosts of Catherine and Heathcliff.

Overall, the fit of the bodice is okay. The front needs a bit more length due to my large bust. While the pattern has different cup sizes, I do still need a bit more room to get tue waistband to sit in the correct location. You can see the waistband going up a bit as a result. I think also a shorter waistband would look better. I think this ends up being close to 3 inches long finished but waistbands work better on me when they are less than 2 inches long.

To get the longer sleeve, I just extended the sleeve by about 10 inches and added elastic to the hem. I didn’t want the elastic to be super tight just give the look of gathered cuffs.

Overall, the pattern was good. Good instructions. I like how the neckline is completely faced with self-fabric and then the whole thing is constructed together so that the facing stays in place. It’s pretty smart.

I enjoyed being moody and Gothic for this photoshoot. Makes the inner 90s goth in me feel pretty fantastic.

TL:DR Review

  • Pattern: Halla Patterns dress
  • Pros: I love this dress. The pattern went together well and the instructions were good.
  • Cons: The bust fit could be better. With HH cups, it’s difficult to get a perfect fit even with cup sizes. Next time I will lengthen the front bodice by about 2.5 inches and shorten the waistband by half.
  • Make again?: Absolutely.
  • Rating: pink-star-black-md pink-star-black-mdpink-star-black-mdpink-star-black-mdpink-star-black-md5/5 stars

So done with Healthcliff’s shit.

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Lace Party Dress

 

Talk about a slow sewing dress and slow to post blog (hahah), I started my lace party dress beginning of October and finished it just in time for my friends’ wedding on October 20th. And yes, it’s February and I am finally writing about it.

I love slow sewing projects. I mean don’t get me wrong, I can complete tons of fast sewing in no time, but I love being able to focus on details like handpicking a zipper, hand-basting lace to underlining, or hand stitching the lining to the skirt. My goal for this year is to focus on similar projects. I have a few planned that will be tons of fun.

Carefully pressing seams over hams with a presscloth become like meditation…

The dress uses the bodice from Simplicity 8096 and a gathered skirt plus self-drafted pockets. I draft most of my own pockets, which is not a huge skill to brag about, but I can’t stand a small pocket. I don’t have large hands (actually super tiny…like I buy kid’s size gloves to get them to fit right) but I like using pockets for my phone, kleenex, keys, key fobs, protein bars for when my food restrictions/allergies/intolerances make grabbing something to eat impossible, my kindle, a brick, etc. You know, normal things. The whole idea of tiny pockets on women’s clothing is weird and stupid and misogynistic since men’s clothing gets huge pockets all the time.

I had limited fabric for this project. I only had 2 yards of the dusty rose lace. The lace was bought many years ago through fabric.com at the same time as other orders for my wedding dress. I originally had plans to use the dusty rose lace on the bodice of my dress instead of the ivory lace and use the ivory lace instead for lingerie. My plans changed and I had this lace leftover.

With only 2 yards, there had to be some pretty good pattern tetris. I also had even less than 2 yards for the beige satin I used for the underlining AND lining…. eeep. Luckily the skirt underlining was able to get cut out using the satin, but I did need to use some other cotton pieces for the pockets and parts of the lining of the bodice. As you can see, I also needed to cut the beige skirt lining much shorter than the lace. It actually made for a lovely tiered hem look. I also used the beige satin for the straps.

The fit on this dress is similar to the fit on my crop top version. It is a bit tight at the front unlike the crop top, where I added in some inches for the overlap there and didn’t have 3 layers of fabric. I think I could benefit from adding an inch to the center panel for comfort. The back fits okay. Although the strap could be brought in on left by an inch (hello, asymmetry!).

 

As part of this outfit, I also wanted to wear a short crinoline under the dress for the wedding. I did leave it off for the pictures to show you the tiered hem. I originally thought of using tulle in my stash and making it from scratch. However, I had a crinoline from my wedding dress that was simply sitting around in a garment bag; the crinoline was longer than most of my skirts and dresses. I decided to be smart and just shorten that crinoline instead to be able to use it for other outfits. I removed the bottom panels of the two skirts of crinoline and then finished the hem with ivory hug snug.

The new shorter crinoline looks great. I have enough crinoline left from the panels I took off the bottom of both skirts to make another crinoline!

I think that some fabric dye would work great on it and then I would have 2 crinolines in different colours. I’m thinking maybe hot pink for the other one.

The result is a great party dress which I wore with some brown Doc Martens and a lovely floral shawl for the wedding. I felt pretty stylish. It was a really lovely night. I didn’t actually take any pictures, though. As a result, it took me forever to actually take blog pictures for this post.

 

Here I am accepting my fake award for being incredible.

 

To say I love this dress is an understatement.

LBD and a Designer Stitch Willow Kimono

I don’t wear a lot of black anymore but I used to wear black in my early teen years. I like sporting black tops and a million “Goth” necklaces. It didn’t last long before I thought that the black made me look super pale and I started having allergic reactions to the bad metals in the cheap necklaces. A rash on my chest plus a super pale face just looks like I am suffering from a terrible disease. Turns out it was a terrible disease!! (EDS joke!) …But not an infectious one. I eventually settled in to a more grunge style with men’s jeans or super baggy overalls and a large amount of vintage t-shirts with men’s button up shirts or a plaid flannel shirt over top.

Ever since, I haven’t really cared for black anything. I wear black pieces but never a full black outfit anymore. A little black dress is a piece women are often told they must have in their wardrobe. I’m not really one for being told what to do, but since I wanted to make more party dresses last year, I thought I would make one. And yes, this project was started last year.

I used the Cashmerette Upton bodice and the Tenterhook Patterns Snapdragon skirt with a curved wrap front. Sadly, Tenterhook Patterns is completely out of business, but there are other woven pencil skirt patterns you could use to recreate this look.

I put it together the first time with the zipper and was underwhelmed. It wasn’t as cinched in at the waist as I wanted it. So I unpicked the zipper and side seams and unpicked the waistband to the waist darts and then left it in a basket for…. several…. months….ahem a year…

And then, as with every time I plan a bunch of stuff, I started thinking… Oh I should maybe finish that thing first…. So I picked it up.

Instead of doing fisheye darts like I was originally going to do, I wanted to maintain the waistband without interruption. So I unpicked the bodice and skirt from the waistband and I put an additional dart in the bodice at the waist. Shortened the waistband by about 2 inches and put a dart in each side of the skirt at the waist and then tried it on and was much happier.

My plan with the dress originally was to make it accessible so that if I was having trouble with my shoulders, I could easily get in and out of the dress. I put ties in at the shoulders and an extra long zipper at the side. There is about 4 inches of side seam at the bottom of the dress on the right side only because I forgot that I didn’t get a separating zipper for it. Originally, I was going to use a separating zipper and then have slits on both sides. I still have slits on both sides but not a completely open side seam for the zipper. In retrospect, that makes it a bit easier for me, especially when getting into the dress.

I’ve tested it a few times and I can get the dress off without any effort. I can also slip it on over my head without any effort. It’s really remarkable!

I bought the fabric years ago. One of the first bits that I added to my stash. It’s a black cotton embroidered with leaves. It’s like an eyelet but without any holes. It’s actually really challenging to sew and my old machine had a lot of trouble sewing it. The embroidered sections are difficult to sew over and are really thick with thread. My new machine went over it without issue, of course. Yeay for the Singer 4452.

I added pockets when I redid the dress. I love having them in the dress. If I ever make another in this style, though, I will use a slash pocket that is anchored by the waistband. Because the pockets aren’t anchored, they fall open a bit. It’s not a huge issue, but doesn’t look as great as I want it to look. There is also a strange pucker on the left bust dart and a bit of gaping at the armsyce. I am guessing that is due to my left shoulder being more dropped that my right shoulder. I likely need to make sure that side is tied a bit tighter.

I’m really glad I made this dress. I think it will be great for at least one of the weddings I am attending this year.

And because I don’t really wear solid black anymore… It also happens to look fabulous with my outrageous Designer Stitch Willow Kimono.

Last year, I got a bunch of fabric from Minerva Crafts as an Monthly Stitch Indie Pattern month prize. I also got a voucher for Designer Stitch as well during that month and got the Willow Kimono. Among the fabric was this orange animal print satin. It’s definitely a bright and outrageous print, but I fell in love with it. I sent some fabric to family in the Dominican Republic for a fellow sewist who lost a lot in the hurricane last year. I almost sent this fabric but then pulled it out of the pile because I had the brilliant idea of making a shorter Willow Kimono with red fringe. Don’t worry, I pulled something else out of my stash that was fabulous to replace it for the gift. I had a meter of this satin and basically decided to cut the length to whatever I could fit on to the piece of fabric. It is cut about 4 inches under the curve of the sleeve.

It’s a really weird garment even for me who loves wacky fabrics! But I really really love it. It was quick to make. The thing that took the most time was trimming the fringe so it was all relatively even.

I think it looks great paired with my LBD. It also looks great with my white upton dress with tie sleeves underneath. Both dresses make it the focal point and don’t overwhelm the eye too much.

What is the most outrageous thing you have made?

 

 

 

Dressing like my Grandma in Simplicity 8084

Dress like your Grandma is a sewing challenge run by my friend and fellow CSC editor, Tanya. The basic premise is to get a vintage picture and copy the outfit. It could be of your grandma or just a vintage photo. I also think if people wanted to dress like their Grandpa, that wouldn’t be an issue at all. This is the second year it has been running and my first time participating. I really really wanted to participate last year but couldn’t get a picture of my maternal Grandmother or my paternal Nana. This year, I managed to come across this picture of my maternal Grandmother with my Grandfather on my Dad’s facebook page and I knew I wanted to use that picture.

My Grandma is wearing a shirt waist dress with a simple A-line skirt. My grandparents appear to be going to a wedding or church or something else formal and the date on the picture is December 1958. My grandparents were farmers in rural Southern Ontario so this would have been a special occasion for them. My mom told me that my Grandma would often wear dresses like this. She sewed her own clothes. I wouldn’t be surprised if she sewed this dress.

I knew the overall style would be easy to duplicate. I wanted to modernize it a bit, though, since I don’t often make things that I will only wear once. Most of the costumes I make are also worn multiple times for cons and our shows so I try to make everything wearable.

I chose Simplicity 8084 for this dress. It has a lot of the elements of the inspiration, but a more open neckline, a banded collar, a loose fit, and a comfortable drawstring waist.

This is my first Mimi G pattern. It went together well. The fabric I used is a telio rayon voile from fabric.com. It’s very lightweight and almost see-through, but luckily not. I hate wearing slips! Actually, I’ve never made one so why start now.

The fabric does stretch a lot. Rayon is prone to this and everytime I work with it I take extra care to staystitch and sometimes use interfacing, especially for the neckline. I really regret not following that practice for this, because the neckline, in spite of staystitching, got super stretched out and I had to lengthen the neckline piece. This causes the neckline to not sit nicely at all. I’ll take extra care should I make this again in the future.

The only other error made was to sew on my sleeves and sew up the side seam and then realize I needed the sleeve tabs. D’OH! They should be up higher, but this was as high as I could manage without ripping out my side seam.

Like the other Simplicity shirtdress I made recently, this one also has extremely wide sleeves at the hem. It doesn’t get smaller closer at the hem and is as wide as the widest part of the bicep. I decided to keep them wide this time. I also widened the sleeves and made the gathered. We all know my preference for puffed sleeves.

Let’s discuss fit. Unlike other Simplicity patterns, the shoulders on this one are fairly wide. I checked the pattern piece just in case the shoulder had also stretched out, but they are wide. I usually have to make shoulders smaller in every single pattern, but that alteration is maybe 2 inches. This one would likely need 3 or maybe more.

The fit on the dress is meant to be a loose fit so I think elsewhere it fits correctly. I will add more to the back skirt, though, since when I sit down it isn’t as loose as I would like. Not tight by any means, but not as loose as I like.

I didn’t go for the curved hem on this dress as per the length. I decided to go with a straight hem to mix it up. I also didn’t go for the hidden button placket since I wanted to use pearlesque buttons like my inspiration picture. In spite of the fit issue and sewing issues, I really like this dress. I think once the fit is perfected I will probably want to make a bunch more.

My mom has told me that I am a lot like her mother both in looks and in personality. I seem to have inherited her height and her overall body structure, including the flat feet. My mom and I have speculated whether my Grandma had EDS since she had joint issues but we’ll never know for sure. Grandma died when I was a toddler. I never knew her except in pictures and stories from my mother.

I wish I had known her from the way my mom talks about her. I loved this challenge for making me feel a bit more connected to her. I really wanted to get the challenge completed for Mother’s Day for my mom, but was sewing away still on Mother’s day. Mom will have to accept the fact that her daughter is always late with gifts. 😉

I am looking forward to next year. Hopefully the challenge will continue, because I am going to my parent’s place this summer and I am going to find a bunch more pictures for inspiration!

TL:DR Review

  • Pattern: Simplicity 8084
  • Pros: Great size range. Easy to follow instructions. Comfortable dress to wear.
  • Cons: Why does the sleeve hem need to be so wide? Shoulders are also unnecessarily wide…
  • Make again?: After a few modifications and with care that the neckline doesn’t stretch out.
  • Rating: pink-star-black-md pink-star-black-mdpink-star-black-mdpink-star-black-md4/5 stars

Cashmerette Cedar Dolman: Pattern Hacks

Today I am sharing two garments I made back in March… One of the items was waiting on a repair before I could take pictures. I’ll talk about that a bit later.

Both garments are made using the Cashemerette Cedar Dolman as the starting pattern. I really love this pattern for its versatility. It’s a great pattern to “hack.”

First up is a dress version. For this version, I actually used the Cedar Dolman I made as a pattern tester. I added a neckband and sleeve bands. Knowing that I was going for a loose fit, I didn’t want to cut the length of the Dolman too much. In the tester version, I made the tie version so I cut the tester off just above the tie. It’s probably about 4 inches off the bottom. For the skirt, I just added two panels that were the width of the back and the front.

I added pockets to the side seams and sewed the tops of them into the skirt waist. The skirt waist is sewn to the bodice and then about an inch and a quarter below that, you sew again. Then you press that extra up and sew a line of stitching to secure it and then feed the elastic in through that. It’s the same method used for the Colette Myrtle waistband in this tutorial.

This is the kind of dress that you just throw on after work or on the weekend. It’s comfortable and easy to make as well! I made it using a bamboo jersey in mauve that I got from a friend. I really really love this fabric. It wears well and is durable.

Up next is the garment I had to repair.

This Cedar Dolman hack is exactly like my striped one, but this time with ruffles on the sleeves! I simply cut two strips of fabric, folded them in half lengthwise and then gathered them and sewed them into the seams while I sewed up the side seams. I made sure to have the ruffles fall down towards the sleeve hem.

I wore this once and then washed it and a few holes appeared in the fabric. Luckily, they aren’t super noticeable after I sewed them up; they are on the front but closer to my armpit. It’s a rayon spandex from Water Tower Textiles. After two washes (pre-wash and then washed once after it was constructed), the holes appeared. I’m really disappointed. The cut was from the end of the roll and I am hoping it was just a fluke since they were transparent about a flaw on a different part of the pieces. I’m probably not going to contact them since they told me there were flaws on the end piece and I got extra fabric as a result of that. I thought I had cut around them all, but didn’t catch these small holes that then became bigger in a wash. It’s sad but not the end of the world.

The top will be an at home top because of the holes. It’s super comfortable and I love those ruffles. They do weigh the sleeves down, though, and make the ruffles under the elbow instead of above. I think I would just use one layer of fabric next time and serge or baby hem the edge to reduce the weight and the bulk since it was also difficult to serge over all those layers. I have some lightweight hunter green jersey that might become another one of these soon because I really love it.

I plan on trying the top out in a woven next possibly with some colour blocking fun.

Decades of Style T.L.C. Caftan

Disclaimer: I received this pattern for free but my opinion, my awesomeness, and fabric is my own.

The Decades Everyday T.L.C. Caftan is out today!!!! I might be a little bit excited.

  

Let your inner Mrs. Roper out!

The T.L.C. Caftan is in Decades of Style extended sizing (YESSSSS!). It goes up to a 52 inch bust (YESSSSS!). DOS has gone to great lengths to make a caftan that will look stylish and be comfortable. The faux wrap bodice is genius with the waistband. There are ties on the inside to pull the waistband to whatever tightness you want (cheese room!). It emphasizes curves so that a plus sized person doesn’t just look like they are wrapped in a bunch of fabric. There are two options to it: shorter sleeves and skirt or longer sleeves and skirt. It also has pockets hidden in the seam for the side panels and front skirt.

 

The only drawback is that this pattern needs a huge amount of fabric (edit: Check out the awesome ideas in the sewalong post for using different fabrics!). The full length takes around 6 yards! But the positive spin of that is the stashbusting possibilities! 😉 I am also thinking of making this in tunic length. I could see it being a really pretty tunic.

 

 

For the bodice, I made size 20 bodice and did a 3 inch FBA as per the instructions we were given (edit: Also in this post on the sewalong). DOS is going to include them in the sewalong so there is no guessing when making an FBA for this. Even though the size 26 would have worked for my bust measurements, I chose to do an FBA, because I wanted the smaller shoulders and neckline to prevent gaping and I did. There is no gaping for me and the wrap bodice comes up higher as well covering my bra nicely. I did use the size 26 skirt pieces and side panels.

 

 

I have no issues with the fit. The only change for next time is to rotate the dart into the shoulder gathers and the waist gathers. I chose not to do that for this version because I was being lazy but with the sheer fabric you can really see the darts so I don’t want that for the next version.

I used white cotton swiss dot with some plain white cotton fabric for the waistbands and the armhole finish as well as the ties inside since I didn’t have white twill tape handy. I added florescent yellow pompom trim to the sleeves and the hem.

Use the code CAFTAN20 for 20% off your order at the checkout.

TL:DR Review

  • Pattern: Decades Everyday T.L.C. Caftan 
  • Pros: Love the waistband and faux wrap. Love the pockets. Love it all. Love love love love.
  • Cons: Only con is how much fabric I need to make all the caftans.
  • Make again?: ALL. THE. CAFTANS.
  • Rating: pink-star-black-md pink-star-black-mdpink-star-black-mdpink-star-black-mdpink-star-black-md5/5 stars

Miss Bossy said McCall’s 7624…so I delivered…

Miss Bossy said make McCall’s 7624 so I made it!

You know, I never was one for being ordered around and told what to do. I can get really stubborn and dig my heels in before I listen to someone tell me what to do. But occasionally, I listen to and follow orders. When it makes sense, I am willing to do it. And sewing always makes sense to me. 😉

  

I chose view C but with the ties from view D. I love the sleeves in view B, but wanted something for summer. Before I started sewing, I had to do an FBA…ughhhhh. I have never done an FBA on a bodice with a cut on sleeve like this, but I was up for the challenge. I chose size 22, which has a 44 inch bust. The finished measurements have it at 49.5  inches (edit: oops forgot to input the finished measurements for size 22). My bust is at 51/2 depending on the time of the month. I did a 3 inch FBA to add 6 inches overall to give me the extra ease that the pattern calls for. I also added 4 inches to the back skirt and the front skirt panels as well as 3 inches to the waistband pieces. I did my best to maintain the original neckline on the bodice so that I could avoid gaping. I didn’t manage to do that completely. There is still some gaping in the neckline, but it is not too bad. I will account for that in the next version. The tutorial I used for the FBA is from the Closet Case Files sewalong for the Kalle shirtdress. It worked out really well. I think the only adjustment that I would make for the next version other than the neckline gaping would be to add a bit more to the front skirt panels to balance out the fullness in the back. Or…alternatively take out the extra inches in the back. We’ll see when I make it again.

  

What else can I say? I just really really really love this dress! It looks fucking fantastic on me!

  

You can see how much I love this dress from these pictures.

  

And the sheer number of pictures I took!

  

The fabric I used is rayon fabric from Fabricland/Fabricville. It was lovely to sew with and pressed beautifully.

I think this will be a summer fixture in my wardrobe!

TL:DR Review

  • Pattern: McCall’s 7624 
  • Pros: Possibly the perfect summer dress with loose sleeves, drapey skirt, and elastic back for comfort.
  • Cons: Let’s talk about how crappy that size range is! 44 bust? Gimme a break, McCall’s. Your size range is the worst! Patterns rarely go above size 22/44 inch bust. McCall’s better wake up and start seeing the plus sized market!
  • Make again?: Absolutely! I love it. I just need to fix the neckline gaping a bit more and I may or may not make an alteration to the skirt fullness.
  • Rating: pink-star-black-md pink-star-black-mdpink-star-black-mdpink-star-black-md4.5/5 stars