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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Patterns for Pirates Siren Swim Top and Sailor Swim Bottoms and Designer Stitch Willow Kimono

My last sewn items in 2018 were all for our trip to Cuba. I made two bathing suit sets using the Patterns for Pirates Siren Swim Top and Hello Sailor Swim Bottoms, Blank Slate Forsythe Trousers in a capri length (I’ll review this in February since I plan on making some more fit tweaks for a pant length version and do not have any pictures ready for the capris), Designer Stitch Willow Kimono, and a pair of Blank Slate Barton shorts in a hot pink nylon for wearing around on the beach (I have more of this material and want to make a couple more pairs of these in various lengths).

I first made the Siren Swim Top and Hello Sailor Swim Bottoms back in the summer before we went to Niagara Falls for a fun weekend. I made 2X in the top and 3X for the bottom.

 

The construction of both was not easy for me at the time. I actually dislocated my left thumb for the first time trying to sew on the elastic. That plus the fact that they didn’t fit great PLUS I cut the anchors upside down made me not want to wear them. We didn’t end up swimming during the vacation anyway. I wasn’t feeling confident about the construction and didn’t want to accidentally fall out of my suit. 😦 It’s a complete bummer when you have such cute fabric! The fabric is from Emerald Studio and very nice quality. I decided to buy more of it so that I could make it again. Erin doesn’t have any more of the matching hot pink fabric, but there was a suitable replacement at Water Tower Textiles along with a bunch of other ones! Both Canadian shops! 😀

I learned a lot during construction of the suit, but wasn’t motivated to make another until we booked our trip to Cuba. I knew the alterations I needed. I needed to add two inches to the top length to accommodate my bust and add two inches to the centre back of the bottoms since I have booty. I also needed to reduce the width of both the bottom band of the top and the waistband of the bottoms to really get a good fit. The pattern has cut lines based on the difference between your overbust and full bust which is an okay method, but not perfect. Even though, my difference is 7 inches, I still needed to add a bit more length. Of course, part of that has to do with using powermesh to line it and making it less stretchy, but the pattern doesn’t really accommodate for projection or underbust. For the anchor version, I added powermesh to the front and not the back of the top and then lined the whole thing with swimsuit lining. I lined the bottoms with swimsuit lining also from Emerald Studio.

  

In the next two versions, I used powermesh to line the top and lined the bottoms with swimsuit lining or black swim fabric depending on what I had left. I believe the black/mermaid scales are lined mostly with black swim fabric (except in the crotch area that has swimsuit lining) and the purple bottoms lined with swimsuit lining. I like the structure the black swim bottoms have in comparison to the purple bottoms. The purple fabric is also a bit thinner than the black fabric so there is less structure overall in that suit.

 

Both are constructed much better than the first pair and had no issues with dislocating my fingers during the construction process. I really love the backs of both suits. The criss-crossing straps are really lovely. The additional length changed it so that the 2-piece suit now looks like a 1-piece suit, which is more to my taste. I loved the original suit I made, but I definitely feel more comfortable in this look. The 2-piece is easier to get on that a 1-piece for me, but I didn’t want to be exposed in my mid section. Mostly due to having to apply more sunscreen and not wanting a burn there!

I did not like the suggested construction methods for a lot of things in the patterns. The bottoms have you sewing the elastic in and then turning the hem over leaving the crotch a lot smaller than I would prefer. I added bands to the legs and sewed the elastic on with one side of the band and then folded the other side of the band over to enclose the elastic in the band. It was much easier for me to do and meant I could wait to cut the elastic and had more of it to grip. I stretched the elastic as I sewed in order to get everything cinched in perfectly. I used this swim elastic from Emerald Studio. It’s seriously good quality and I highly recommend it. I used the same method of enclosing the elastic in the bands for the waistband and the bottom band on the top. The top has elastic at the neckline and under the arms. These are enclosed in the lining already.

I used the serger for all construction. The only alteration from these two versions would be to either cut the straps shorter or stabilize them somehow. I found that as I swam they stretched out. I also plan on making the bands a bit shorter still on the waistband and the bottom band for the top. I may actually line them with powernet. The powernet was from Emerald Studio again. Yes, the post is one long advertisement for Emerald Studio. Hah. I was not paid in any way for this. I just really love Emerald Studio.

 

The cover up I am wearing is the Designer Stitch Willow Kimono. I won it during the Monthly Stitch Indie Pattern month. I made it with a lovely cotton voile and it is soft and drapey for a cotton. I trimmed it using a fringe for the and pom-pom trim for the arms. Construction was fairly easy and the overall structure of the pattern is easy. It’s 5 pieces of fabric: 2 front pieces, 1 back piece, and 2 pieces for the band for around the neckline and sides. I would definitely make it again. I made size 10 based on my measurements. It fits large and makes a nice beach coverup. I would have been far far more sunburnt without it.

TL:DR Review

  • Pattern: Patterns for Pirates Siren Swim Top and Hello Sailor Swim Bottoms
  • Pros: I love the result for the black and purple swimsuits.
  • Cons: The pattern without modifications isn’t perfect and the method for adjusting the bust isn’t solid. The instructions are in pictures, which I personally find difficult to see versus illustrations.
  • Make again?: Absolutely. I’d be interested to move on to more complicated swimsuits, but this is a great beginner pattern.
  • Rating: pink-star-black-md pink-star-black-mdpink-star-black-mdpink-star-black-mdwhite-star-black-md4/5 stars
  • Pattern: Designer Stitch Willow Kimono
  • Pros: It’s a great pattern!
  • Cons: I’m not sure there are cons. It’s a simple pattern with a decent 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