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?

 

 

 

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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.

Cashmerette Darturner Dress and Dartmouth top

A while ago, my fellow CSC editor, Jessica, shared her Dartmouth/half circle skirt dresses on her blog. I had also seen a few other people share versions of this with the Dartmouth top and the Turner skirt. I knew I needed to try it.

So I did:

 

 

 

I added pockets to this dress. The Turner dress does have a pocket through a free expansion, but I decided to make my own pattern piece since I wanted the pocket to be held in place by the waist. I should have basted the pockets in place, because the serger knocked them off ever so slightly. My pocket fabric is a dark hunter green lightweight jersey. The bit of pocket showing is even on both sides with about a 1/4 inch of the pocket peaking out so it looks intentional and quite frankly you can’t tell at all since the fabric is a dark hunter green and black and the hunter green blends nicely.

Speaking of the fabric, it is a crepe knit that I got at a Buy 1 get 2 free sale through Fabricville.com. The fabric is actually printed on white crepe which makes for a weird white on the inside look, but no one will see it. It’s polyester knit and not breathable so it will be fine for winter but going into Summer probably not, but I prefer bright colours in the Summer.

To do this “hack,” I just cut the Dartmouth top at the waistline and popped it on the Turner skirt. Any discrepancies in size were fixed with stretch fabric and elastic at the waistline.

I made the whole dress in about 2 hours for a party the next day, because “I had nothing to wear” (*cough* an excuse to sew).

The very next week after that, I made another Dartmouth top in a white hacci knit. The knit ended up being a bit see-through so I also made a Concord tank top to wear underneath in a lightweight knit fabric.

 

 

 

With the extra stretch and low recovery of the hacci knit, there are some strange fit issues with this version, but I don’t mind. It’s a comfortable sweater top to wear. Please excuse the crap hem. I was having tension issues on my serger at the time so it was stretching stuff out, but I am too lazy to go back and fix it. For the most part, I wear this top with skirts so it doesn’t show.

I have a couple more projects cut out that I should sew first, but my brain is starting to turn to Summer sewing plans so I might have to lock myself to the sewing machine to get those done before the warmer weather hits.

While I’ve been gone

It’s been a while since I posted. I’ve been busy with a lot of pattern testing that I can’t share yet and a costume project that I can share, but didn’t take many pictures of, and a few other smaller projects one of which I will share in a different post.

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For the costume project, I took apart a suit and two jumpsuits to make them tearable for a friend’s sketch show. This is the only picture I took, but it reminds me of Flat Stanley and makes me giggle a lot. The suit ultimately needed to be made into a jumpsuit and then the front needed to tear away from the back.

My old Brother SQ9050 kind of died after this project. I broke about 10 needles during the project and it struggled through every bit of it. Afterwards, the feed dogs just stopped working completely. RIP Jane Eyre. Rochester, my serger, will be in mourning forever… I do want to see if I can fix Jane so I can use her as a backup machine or even use the different stitches. I don’t want to take her into a shop, though, so it would be purely DIY. I did that with my serger at one point and fixed the timing. I think the connection to the feed dogs is probably where to look. And I looked briefly at the Brother site and saw that parts are available including new feed dogs.

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Meet Brienne of Tarth. She’s a Singer Heavy Duty 4452 that I purchased off Amazon.

Brienne of Tarth is aptly named because she is a workhorse and can take anything I throw at her. She has a metal frame and a fast motor meaning I can go up to 11,000 stitches per minute. So far, I love this new machine. Moving from a computerized to a manual machine is a bit of a learning curve, but not impossible. My first machine was manual, but I didn’t really remember a lot from that time. I also think I didn’t really learn what I could about the stitch settings and am taking my time to learn with this new machine. I thought at one point I would save up to get a Pfaff, but I think that is out of range for now. The positive of this machine is that is extremely affordable. I’ll do a full review after I work with it for some more time, but so far is is doing a far better job than my Brother ever did.

I started off with a simple project of some fabric bins for the first project with Brienne.

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I used this tutorial on Birch Fabrics to make them for my friend. I did change the shape slightly into a rectangle due to a cutting error, but I love the rectangular shape. I also used fusible foam instead of a heavy interfacing so they stood up better. I have fabric and foam left to make myself a couple of fabric bins.

This past weekend, I made a Concord top and redid my tester version of the Belmont leggings so they fit and I cropped them off in hopes that Spring may arrive here some day…

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The fabric is a bamboo jersey and is quite lovely. Grey seems to be a theme lately with me since I just cut out another grey project and have two others planned. I’m not entirely in love with the colour or lack of colour, but can see potential for layering and pairing with obnoxiously bright neon colours. I am also working on a grey Seamwork Jill Coatigan:

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The fabric is a gorgeous heavy wool knit blend with stripes on one side and floral on the other. I decided to go with the stripes on the outside, but have the floral showing on the collar. I ran out of fabric as well so I had to cut the pocket and the tie I decided to add from a dark wool. To make the whole thing less blah, I will be finishing the inside seams with a lime green bias tape made from the fabric in the bins above. 😀 I shortened the coat by about 10 inches for two reasons: 1) I am super short (5’3″ at last measuring) and the hem would have hit me at mid calf when it is supposed to hit mid-thigh; 2) And then when I was cutting it out…. I had to shorted it again to get the main pieces to fit on the fabric and they *just* fit. This actually might hit me mid-thigh now…which makes me wonder if they made the pattern for a person with Brienne’s proportions… I’m excited to share this later on this month on the CSC and then again here. Cross your fingers it all goes well.

I also recently made a new knit dress, but I will share that in a different post. 🙂

In other news, I received my first sewing magazines in the mail from Ottobre. The CSC editors were offered them for free. I have a few favs from them and at the top is that pink babydoll dress on the right hand cover of the Spring/Summer 2018 issue. I just have to get some tracing paper and then I should be ready to go.

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I have some pretty intense costume projects coming up for improv performances at festivals in the summer and early fall. I will need to plan them out and I’ll share the process here. It’s pretty exciting, actually, since we have a costume budget! But it is a budget so I will have to think carefully of the plans for it. After all the costumes are created, we can use them for more festivals in the future as well as runs of our improv shows. The troupe is pretty excited about all that. Speaking of the troupe, if you are at Toronto Comicon this weekend, check us out:

Cashmerette Belmont Leggings

Today I am sharing my Cashmerette Belmont leggings. Earlier this week, I shared my Cedar Dolman top. Both the Cedar set and the Belmont set were released together and tested together. I haven’t tried the Cedar tank or the Belmont yoga pants, but both are on my list to try. As with the Cedar top, I tested the Belmont leggings and received the final pattern for free. But my opinions are my own and definitely not from a robot or created by predictive text. HA!

The Belmont leggings have side seams and inner seams as well as a separate waistband. I thought I would hate all those seams, but I actually don’t and it makes it easier to squeeze them into a small amount of fabric. My TNT leggings pattern has just one pattern piece. I took apart Old Navy leggings to make it. However, the inner seams on the legs twist about no matter the fabric type and the rise is always a bit off depending on the fabric. I was coming to the conclusion that I either needed to tweak it or finally find a good pattern for leggings when Jenny messaged me about the testing on the Belmont leggings.

I have tried Cake Patterns Espresso leggings and Patterns for Pirates Peg Legs and hated both. They were very tight, very long (hello 5’3″ here!), and just didn’t work out for me.

I’ll be honest, my tester version weren’t as good. Which is why I am so never sharing them here! I do have pictures of me with the waistband pulled up really high that are funny, but I’d prefer to keep them for private laughs.

My final version of these is so close to perfect! I made a size 24. The only adjustment I made was to cut off about 5 inches in length, my standard for pants/leggings. I also added a cuff to the bottom since hemming knits is the WORST (#lazytips).

The fabric I used is a fleece-back poly from Water Tower Textiles in Heather Navy. The texture of the right side of the fabric is smooth and soft to the touch with a bit of a “wind proof” feel to it. The wrong side is a super soft fleece. The fabric is thinner than I expected. My experience of fleece-back poly is that it is pretty thick. I don’t find the warmth is lost by the thinner fabric, though. If anything, it makes them a bit more breathable, but still keep the heat in when walking around.

 

I love the leggings. I squeezed this pair into 1 metre of the fleece-back poly (shortened by 5 inches) which makes them a great project for small amounts of fabric.

There are literally no adjustments I would make for future versions of these. They fit perfectly.

Of note, the top I am wearing is a lovely bamboo/viscose Concord tank top. It’s so soft and comfy. I usually throw it on as pjs, because it is like being wrapped in a blanket.

TL:DR Review

  • Pattern: Cashmerette Belmont Leggings
  • Pros: Everything! I adore this pattern!
  • Cons:  Um?
  • Make again?: Absolutely! I have fabric for 4 more pairs in more fleece-back poly from Water Tower Textiles (they should start sponsoring me….ha!).
  • Rating: pink-star-black-md pink-star-black-mdpink-star-black-mdpink-star-black-mdpink-star-black-md5/5 stars

Striped Cashmerette Cedar Dolman

Today I am sharing a post that I originally posted on the sewcialist blog for Striped month. 🙂 With a few extras for my blog. 😉

This post breaks all those silly rules that society makes up.

As a plus sized person, we are often told about what to wear to “flatter” our shape. To many people in the plus sized category, that means to disguise our shape or make us look skinnier. You can read Mary’s article on the Curvy Sewing Collective to hear more thoughts on the word flattering.

Stripes often make the list of patterns that plus size people should steer clear of and I definitely don’t agree. I think stripes are for all people of all shapes and sizes.

I love stripes and find they make me feel great. There is no hiding the fact that I am plus sized so I might as well wear what I love and find joy in what I make. Ultimately, the joy I get from making clothes I love translates to me strutting in confidence in the world. For many years, when I obeyed the dumb rules of flattering, I would not feel as good in my clothing or enjoy wearing them. When I let go of that, and lived confidently, I felt a lot better about my body.

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I made this top to throw all rules out the window. I think you can feel pretty empowered by letting go of all the rules.

The pattern is the Cedar Dolman top from Cashmerette patterns. I used Gillian’s hack to add sleeves to it and I added a cuff to the sleeve as well as a hem band and a neck band.

I tested the pattern. However, changes have been made since and I am not going to share my test version. I also tested the Belmont leggings at the same time. I will also not be sharing my tester version of those either. The changes made in the final patterns of both lead to a much better fit so it makes no sense to share the tester version.

The Cedar Dolman fits just as expected. It’s meant to fit loosely and drape over the bust. I really love it and it’s a great pattern to use as a base for all your hacking needs. I plan on making the pattern several times more. I really love the top. I want to try it in a drapey woven material soon.

The fabric I used is a super soft double brushed polyester knit in mustard with white stripes from Water Tower Textiles.

Yellow is a colour that I really really love but I avoided wearing it for years and years because of a comment when I was younger of how I looked in yellow… something along the line of pale disgusting zombie. I realized that I needed to let go of that. Yellow makes me happy and I wanted more of it in my life. I think I look and feel fabulous in this mustard colour.

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Breaking the rules again, I made no attempt to match stripes in any way. I find that as we sew, we get caught up in doing things the right way. We want to match those stripes perfectly. Often that prevents us from sewing and having fun with something that is supposed to be a hobby. For me, sewing is all about the fun. Everyone can absolutely have different standards, but I wanted to let go of it for this project. I have enough going on that I didn’t need to stress over stripes. I needed to feel empowered and confident. I definitely don’t think it is bad that someone takes the time to match stripes perfectly, but if that act is stopping you, don’t stress. Just sew!

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My top has the stripes strategically placed on the diagonal in order to further not care about matching the stripes. I also cut the top on the fold. The Cedar dolman is cut with two front pieces and two back pieces, but cutting on the fold meant I could avoid stripe matching again. Huzzah!

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Maybe this post should be titled lazy stripe tips. Ha!

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Want to avoid matching stripes? Have then all go in different directions! With the diagonal stripes on the front and back pieces, I made the sleeves and sleeve cuffs have horizontal stripes and the hem band with vertical stripes. I cut the neckband so the white stripe went all the way around.

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The whole project made me feel great, and I now have a lovely yellow top that I love wearing and brings me a lot of joy! Not only is it a super soft, warm, and comfortable top, but it also makes me feel great. What could be more ‘flattering’ than that?

TL:DR Review

  • Pattern: Cashmerette Cedar Dolman top
  • Pros: It’s a great pattern! I can’t wait to try the workout top.
  • Cons: I’m not sure there are cons. It’s a simple pattern with a great size range.
  • Make again?: Absolutely!
  • Rating: pink-star-black-md pink-star-black-mdpink-star-black-mdpink-star-black-mdpink-star-black-md5/5 stars

Cashmerette Rivermont Pattern

I tested the Cashmerette Rivermont pattern and really fell in love with it.  The pattern includes a sheath dress and a peplum top with a high scoop neck. The neckline has shoulder to shoulder facings. And there are big pockets in the sheath dress. The pattern called for medium weight ponte knit or lightweight neoprene/scuba.

When Jenny sent me the pattern preview, I jumped on it. We actually tested back in July/August. I bought some lovely ponti de roma in a deep purple from Fabricland to make my first version.

 

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I sent off the results of testing and hadn’t hemmed the dress yet. I usually take off 3-4 inches from the hem of Cashmerette patterns unless I feel like leaving them long (the Webster dress I left longer). I’m considering going back  and hemming it about 4 inches shorter. Also, because the hem got all wavy in sewing and even after pressing it wouldn’t go flat.

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I realized as I was taking these pictures that most are with my hands in the pockets. They are such deep cozy pockets that I just kept putting my hands in there. Ha! I styled it with a belt from Addition-Elle. That belt is one of my favourite wardrobe accessories.

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I adore purple on me. Weirdly I don’t have a lot of it in my wardrobe. This piece was the start of getting it back into my wardrobe. 🙂

My second Rivermont dress was also using the tester pattern. I had a wedding to go to in Killarney at the end of September and really needed something nice to wear. I got some peach scuba in a Bunz trade at the end of August. Over 86 yards of awesome fabric for a $40 gift card to Staples! Bunz is crazy good. What I noticed was the light peach colour was a great match for my skin and then my brain just needed some lace overlay for it. I got some royal blue stretch lace from Fabricville (sadly not available anymore) and got started the week of the wedding. Yes, I was finishing the dress up the night before we left.

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You can see how the scuba with its lower stretch percentage and stiffness makes it fit a little bit differently. But it still looks awesome imho.

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After seeing all the pictures with my hands in my pockets, I basically was self conscious and kept them out for these pictures. LOL. I styled this dress with a thin gold belt from Winners.

The neckline was fixed for the final version. It doesn’t really bother me in either of these dresses. It’s much better in the ponti version since the fabric has better recovery. The scuba version definitely has a more pronounced neckline issue as well as an issue with gaping pockets. I used a lighter jersey to line the pockets due to a few reasons. I didn’t want to have too much bulk from sewing through three layers of fabric at the waist and I didn’t have enough fabric. The dress also had to be cut 4 inches shorter, but that turned out to be a great thing since I love the length.

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I really wanted to take these pictures and get the post ready for the launch of the pattern, because I love it so much. I had a rough September and October due to having gluten back in my diet in order to get tested for celiac disease and spent a lot of the time sick. I’m back on my gluten free diet now and automatically feel better. I mean I still have a chronic illness, but a chronic illness plus an extra amount of horrible migraines, allergy attacks, GI issues, and not being able to eat for fear of throwing up is the worst. I often have all of these issues, but not to that degree. And of course, it is fall here, so if it isn’t me being sick, it’s raining. I actually managed to take these after it had rained off and on all day.

There will be many more Rivermont iterations in the future. I plan on making a stretch velvet peplum next. 😀