Pattern Review – Simplicity 1586, aka The Wedding Gown Refactor

30 years ago, a journey began.
June 1 1985
Since that beautiful June day, lots has happened – two sons, two careers, ups, downs, and everything in between that makes up a more or less normal life.

After the wedding, I had my gown preserved, and since then it’s been sitting in a big honkin’ box in the back of DS the Elder’s closet. To mark our anniversary, we decided to go out for a nice dinner. What to wear, what to wear? Well, typical of my style, on Thursday of this week I got the hankering to make a new dress, and a light bulb went off. I don’t have a daughter; I have a big old dress just sitting there. Surely there must be enough fabric to make something new that also is a sweet way to honor the occasion. I started looking through patterns at lunch and found this one.


Pattern Description: From Simplicity’s website, “Misses’ & Plus size dress with sleeve and neckline variations. Individual patterns for slim, average & curvy fit & B, C, D cup size for miss & C, D, DD cup sizes for plus. Amazing Fit Collection by Simplicity.

To add to that, this is an armhole-princess-line pattern. I made the v-neck, sleeveless version.

Sizing: 10-28 with cup size and curve variations for all sizes. I used a 12 at the shoulders, tapering to a 14 D-cup/Average figure for the rest.

Available as a PDF? Yes

Fabric Used: Silk Satin (Similar Here), Sheer Cotton Voile in White

Machines and Tools Used: Pfaff 2130 sewing machine, Juki serger, Iron, Ham. Shoulder press, sleeve board.

Needle/Notions Used: Universal 70/10 needle, Pro-Tricot Interfacing, ¼” cotton twill tape, Lampo lightweight mesh invisible zipper, Japanese hand-sewing needles, thread.

Tips Used during Construction: Fear Not the Fabric, Anything by The Pressinatrix, Sew from Wide to Narrow

Did it look like the photo or drawing when you got through? Yes

How were the instructions? I didn’t use them. It’s a straightforward princess line dress, and I can sew those in my sleep.

Construction Notes: I have to admit that I was very nervous about this project when I started. I didn’t know what condition the dress would be in when I pulled it out of the box.

My hands were shaking as I opened the box

Fortunately, other than wrinkles from being stored in a box for the better part of 3 decades it was in great shape.

Princess Diana would have been proud.

There’s a lot of fabric in that train

My heart was pounding as I started to cut the skirt but I got over my nerves and really enjoyed the process. I was fascinated to see that this dress was really, really well made. I had the dubious pleasure of helping a good friend with her $6000 Vera Wang wedding dress several years ago, and I was appalled at the shoddy construction used – unfinished seam allowances, threads left hanging, and 4mm stitch length. But my dress was beautifully made, with wide seam allowances, hand-sewn lining in the bodice, tight stitching and all seams finished. Not a serger stitch in sight, either.

There was enough fabric in the skirt to make the dress a couple of times over. I cut out the pieces and decided, thanks to time constraints, to underline the dress (the pattern is unlined) with cotton voile rather than create a lining for it. I made a quick muslin to check the fit. I have found that Simplicity patterns run huge on me through the upper chest and shoulders. This was no exception. I started with a 12, and I still had to take about an inch out of the back neck (I used darts) where it gapped dreadfully. I tapered out to a 14 at the bust (using the D-cup pieces) and gave myself a skoosh extra room at the waist (sigh…)

I used twill tape to stay the v-neckline. I hand basted the underlining pieces to the outer dress pieces and sewed it up. I used the serger to finish the facings and the hem. This went together very quickly. Once I sat at the sewing machine I sewed it up in 4 hours from first seam to last hem stitch. Pressing everything properly took the bulk of that time.

Likes/Dislikes: This is a great base piece for any wardrobe. I love the simple clean lines. I love the different cup sizes and curviness options. Hate Simplicity’s fit through the upper chest, but I know about it so I can fix it easily. There’s nothing I dislike about the pattern (other than the aforementioned fit issue). The pattern is beautifully drafted and goes together without a hitch.

Would you do it again? Would you recommend it? I would do it again. I definitely recommend it.

Conclusion: I’m so happy with how this turned out. I have enough fabric from the dress left to make a bolero, which I think I will do at some point. I also have all the lace, which would make a nice trim on said bolero. Enough of my yammering, here are pictures…

On Shelley

On me

With the Man I Love

Gratuitous Hoover Shot

I think my next project will be a less emotionally-fraught maxi dress for summer.
Happy sewing!

Posted in Fabrics, Sewing, Simplicity | 25 Comments

Wonderful Wardrobe Wednesday at Gorgeous Fabrics!

And now for some Gorgeous Fabrics business-related news…

Last week we tried an experiment that succeeded rather fabulously, so we’re doing it again! I call the concept Wonderful Wardrobe Wednesday. It’s a grouping of fabrics that I’ve picked out that work together well – some are bottom weight, some are for tops. There are knits as well as wovens – all chosen with the idea that you can mix and match. Last week’s group was in a brown/earth-tones colorway; this week’s is blues. There are 5 fabrics (some weeks there may be more, some weeks less) that go together well or complement each other in a wardrobe, SWAP or capsule collection. You don’t have to buy all of them, and you don’t have to buy any specific quantities. You get to pick and choose!

And the really fun thing is that we have a coupon “WWW” that takes 10% off any of these fabrics for the one day that we highlight them (i.e., today)! Here are the today’s fabrics. If you click on the image it will take you to that fabric’s page.
Italian Sweater Knit – great weight for cardigans and toppers

Bold Scale Butterfly ITY for tops, skirts or dresses

Silk Crepe de Chine – Wow – that one sold out already, sorry

Daylily Profusion Neoprene – a totally on-trend fabric for dresses and skirts!

Textured RPL – with a little stretch, it travels beautifully and wears like iron

What do you think of this concept? Should we do more of these? Should I set up a separate email list so you can sign up to get notification of our WWW coordinates, or is our regular sale email good? And if you aren’t on our mailing list already – why not? It’s easy, it’s free and we NEVER share your information with ANYONE. Evah.

Let me know in the comments what you think. Thanks, have fun and happy sewing!

Posted in Fabrics | 21 Comments

Vogue 9073 on the Hoof

Pictures! Tonight is prom, and DS the Younger wore his vest and tie. He told everyone who asked where he got it that I made it for him. :)

In the wild, under the tux.

In the wild, under the tux.

Buttoned up, with his ballroom dance partner

Buttoned up, with his ballroom dance partner

Photobombing

Photobombing the shot of the girls

Happy sewing!

Posted in Vogue | 5 Comments

Pattern Review – Vogue 9073, Plus a Quick Tip

It’s prom time! Between traveling and that, what little sewing time I’ve had has been devoted to others. I made a belt for my friend’s daughter using a pearl and crystal trim from M&J backed with black petersham ribbon. It doesn’t warrant a review, but I’ll see if I can get a picture on her tomorrow night.

The other thing I’ve worked on is a vest and bow tie for DS the Younger. I had an old pattern, Vogue 2826 (long out of print) that I have used many times before, but it didn’t have a vest, so we got him this one.

That’s what I made!


Pattern Description: From the website, MEN’S VEST, CUMMERBUND, POCKET SQUARE AND TIES: Vest A includes sizes S-M-L-XL-XXL and has welt pockets. View A and Cummerbund B are lined. Pocket Square C. Bias-cut Ties D,F are 3″ wide and Ties E,G are 3 1/2″ wide. Views F,G have contrast band. Bow Tie H. Pre-tied Bow Tie I.

I made the vest A and the “pre-tied” bow tie I.

Sizing: S-XXL. I made a medium at the chest and shoulders, tapering to a small at the waist. Oh, to be 17 and the swim team captain…

Available as a PDF? No

Fabric Used: Blue and gold printed quilting cotton. I know, I know. But he had a specific color in mind, and he wanted sparkle to it. This one fit the bill, so there you go. Lining fabric that has been in my stash for who knows how long.

Machines and Tools Used: Home Pfaff sewing machine.

Needle/Notions Used: Universal 70/10 needle, Pro Weft Supreme Light Interfacing from Fashion Sewing Supply, buttons, hooks, eyes, thread.

Tips Used during Construction: Anything by The Pressinatrix, Make the Lining First, Bottom Up Buttons.

Also, I’m not sure this is worth writing a tip for, but if you are ever working with a dark, or heavily patterned, low-contrast fabric like this one, a great way to find all the stray threads on it is to use a bright LED flashlight. It’ll reveal even the most matchy-matchy rogue threads.

Did it look like the photo or drawing when you got through? Yes

How were the instructions? They were okay. Just to try something different, I decided to use the standard Vogue instructions way of making welts, rather than my own Tried-and-True Method for Making Welt Pockets. You know what? The standard Vogue instruction way sucks. You are flying blind for much of it, making it difficult to achieve precise results. I ended up throwing out one whole side of the vest and re-making it using my way of doing welt pockets.

Construction Notes: Speaking of welts, I decided to narrow the welt on the pocket a bit. I found the narrower width more aesthetically pleasing. The pattern calls for sew-in interfacing, but I used fusible, and block-fused all pieces. I used a 2.5mm stitch length and 17mm buttonholes (automatic).

The outside of the welt pocket


And the inside

Likes/Dislikes: This is an easy pattern. I like the vest, and I think DS the Younger will like it when he tries it on. It’s not a standalone vest – it doesn’t have a back, just a back belt and halter, but it will look great under a tux. The tie is a faux-bow tie – it’s basically two rectangles of fabric that are pinched in the middle and tacked together with a band wrapped around the middle, then sewn to the neckband. I don’t care for that method. I’ve made real bow ties and I like those better. But this will do for a high school prom. I have enough fabric left over that I may remake the bow tie the “real” way for him.

Closeup of the tie

Would you do it again? Would you recommend it? If the occasion arises, sure. This was a pretty easy pattern, it’s well drafted and it turned out nicely. I would prefer it in a nice silk, but hey, I wasn’t sewing for me. I wouldn’t make the version of the tie that I made here, though if you are in a time crunch and you need a bow tie, they don’t get much easier than this.

Conclusion: A good pattern, easy to sew. And I’m Hero Mom for making it for him! Here are some shots on Shelley, who has vastly different measurements than he does. I’ll get pictures on him tomorrow night.

It’ll fit him better than my Wolf dress form


See what I mean about not being a standalone vest?

Happy sewing!

Posted in Vogue | 3 Comments

Tip: Bottom Up Buttons

Here’s a quick one that will make your life easier in some cases. Certain garments, like a Tuxedo Vest with pointed hems for example, really need careful placement of the buttons to make sure that those points stay even. When making my son’s prom vest, I sewed the buttons on the front from the top down. I did a great job spacing them, but when I got to the bottom I saw that they were placed so the points were just slightly askew. He probably wouldn’t notice, but it made my eye twitch, and I’m sure it would cause my sewing friends to give me side eye. So here’s a quick solution: sew the buttons from the bottom up!

First, of course, I sew the button holes. Then I lay the piece on a flat surface like an ironing board and using a ruler, “level” the points:
Level the Points
Position your bottom button based on this, and sew it on the garment. Then you can move up the garment and sew your buttons on. Ta daa! Points are aligned!
After the Buttons are Sewn

Now obviously, this works best on a garment, like a vest, that has a v-neck. It’s not meant to replace precise cutting and sewing, but it will make it less likely that you come to the end of the buttons and discover that you’re off by a minute but irritatingly visible amount.

Happy sewing!

Posted in Tips | Leave a comment

What to Do with Scraps? Recycle Them!

I often get questions about what to do with scraps left over from sewing projects. And as the owner of a fabric store, I frequently am left with headers and other bolt ends that are too small to use or sell. This presents a conundrum, because I hate to put anything in the trash, and discarded clothing, shoes and textiles make mountains of waste in the US.

I used to Freecycle all my old headers, but I had some bad experiences with Freecyclers, so I stopped using it. Fortunately, around the same time, my local high school sent out a notice that Bay State Textiles was setting up a recycling bin for textile products at the school’s parking lot. They recycle clothing, shoes and linens, and after inquiring, I found out they will also take my headers. Plus, they pay the school district a set amount per pound for recyclable goods. So everyone wins – I get rid of scraps that aren’t useable, the fabrics get recycled, and the school gets money.

Bay State Textiles is a member of SMART, Secondary Materials and Reclaimed Textiles Association. If you click on the link, it will take you to their website. They have a Search Capability, where you can enter your state or country and it will give you a list of recyclers in your area.

I have no affiliation with Bay State Textiles or SMART, I just think they are a great idea. It’s a great way to cut down on post-consumer waste, it doesn’t cost you anything, and it benefits the school and the planet. All in all I’d say it’s a win!

Happy sewing!

ETA 5-13-15 Betty posted on our Facebook page a link to a Dallas, TX based recycler,
American Textile Recycling Service. Thanks Betty!

If you know of recyclers in your area who accept scraps, please leave a comment with the link and I’ll post them here. The more the better (for the planet)!

Posted in Fabrics, Plugs, Recycling Fabrics | 8 Comments

Portland!

If you check out the feeds on my blogroll, you have probably seen the posts from Shams, Margy and Nancy about our trip to Portland, OR last week. There are a group of us who have been meeting in various cities around the US for the last several years. This year the trip was to PDX, and it was wonderful! A vacation with my sewing buddies is one of my favorite things, and I have been looking forward to visiting Portland since we first decided to go there.

First up, thanks so much to Shams and Patti for arranging everything. While no one was in charge of the weekend, they took charge and made sure we had great food and lodgings.

There was lots of fabric shopping. Believe it or not, I recused myself from all that. Go figure – I prefer to spend my off hours doing anything but fabric shopping. Fortunately, the group is comfortable with splitting up and not having to all do the same things. While everyone else hit up the Pendleton store and Mill End Fabrics (which I hear were great)  I went to the botanical gardens and the river walk. We all met up for dinners and we went to the Italian Style exhibit at the Portland Art Museum. It was a wonderful time!!!

I didn’t take very many pictures, unfortunately, but here are the few I did take…

Mt Hood

Mt. Hood from the airplane. So Beautiful!!!!

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Portland had great street art

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Street art and great public transportation, too

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It’s called the City of Roses

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And they were just starting to bloom

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With Rosie!!

IMG_2753

Outside the Italian Style Exhibit. My friend Glenn owns a Bugati, so I had to send him this picture

IMG_2756

Jan and Nancy at Pok Pok

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Mardel, Liana, Rosie and Shams at Pok Pok.

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Mt. Hood from the cab

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Mt. Hood – I think? Mt. Adams and Ranier in the background. Them’s some big-assed mountains!

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Rainier. Yeah.

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Mt. St. Helens, with Ranier in the background. Can you say “boom”?

Thank you to all my friends for a wonderful weekend! I have been working on prom stuff for DS the Younger and one of The Elves, so more to come.

Happy Sewing!

Posted in Travel | 4 Comments

Inside a Burberry Trench Part 2 – The Removable Liner

Almost four years ago, I wrote what has proved to be one of my most popular posts, Inside a Burberry Trench. While a Burberry trench is a wonderful lifetime-wear garment, it only sees three seasons in the Northeast. To make it warm for winter weather, you can add a removable liner. Let’s have a look, shall we?

The liner, installed in the coat

The Burberry liner is made of a medium-weight wool, polyamide and cashmere flannel in the classic Burberry plaid. It buttons into the coat, with roughly half an inch overlap on the coat’s facings.

And on its own

This is the liner turned inside out on Shelley. This is what would be against the body when wearing the coat.

There are some interesting details that you can see. First – the plaid’s major stripe is centered at the CB. There is no center back seam, just two side seams. The vent is off-center, to correspond to the vent on the coat. All the edges are finished with lightweight cotton twill tape binding.

The horizontal plaid is matched perfectly across all seams. Now, on the back side of the liner are some more cool details. All seams are finished with the same twill tape binding, so the liner looks good from all angles. The shoulder seams are generously wide (for RTW), probably to eliminate bulk when wearing the liner in the coat, and they are pressed toward the back.

There is a facing, made from the same fabric as the coat shell (cotton blend) that is about 2 inches wide. The edge is turned under and sewn to the liner. The facing is navy blue (my coat is navy), rather than a one-color-fits-all. It’s a nice detail that might go overlooked.

For a short coat, there are 12 buttons and buttonholes for affixing the liner to the coat. The buttonholes are spaced about 6 inches apart along the coat’s front, with two evenly spaced between the center back and the shoulder seams, and one at each shoulder seam. In a full-length trench, there are 14 buttons. The buttons are sewn to the coat’s facings, except at the collar and sleeves, where there is no facing.

The little buttons are for the liner. The big button is for the coat.

So that’s what the innards of a Burberry trench liner look like. That should give you some ideas if you are making your own. Hope this helps, and

Happy sewing!

Posted in Burberry Trench, Sewing, Style | 6 Comments

Shameless Plug – Susan Khalje’s Classes and Videos

Before I start with the subject at hand, let me apologize for not moderating the comments from last week. I don’t know what I did, but suddenly I stopped getting email notifications of comments waiting in the queue. They are all released now. I’ll try to get that fixed.

Image cribbed from Susan’s website

Now, where was I? Oh yes – shameless plug time! Susan Khalje is a dear friend and colleague of mine, but even if she wasn’t I would recommend her classes to anyone who wants to build their skills and take their sewing to a higher level.

Susan teaches classes all around the country, and she has several per year at her home in Maryland. I’ve taken her Sit and Sew classes, which she often teaches with Kenneth King, three times over the years, and I’ve also taken her couture sewing class. I learn so much from each class I take with her. There’s always something new for me to take away.

With Susan

I made this dress in Susan’s class

She also hosts classes taught by other couture sewing professionals. There’s a set of draping classes coming up, taught by Julien Cristofoli. One of these days I will take that class. Susan runs an annual guided tour to Paris, where participants get to visit couture houses and suppliers, take classes and soak in the atmosphere and knowledge in the City of Light. Sigh – that trip is on my bucket list.

But the reason I love her classes, and the reason I recommend her so highly is that she not only has mad skillz, but she also has the patience of a saint. Susan will take the time needed to explain something so everyone gets it. I have never seen her lose patience with any of her students, and she clearly cares deeply that each one of her students gets the most from her classes.

And hey – she also has video classes! So if you can’t make it to one of her in-person classes, you can take your time and learn at your own pace (in your bunny slippers if you want, always a plus). I’ve taken her Couture Dress video class and it was excellent. The first chapter alone was, for me, worth the price of admission.

So if you want to increase your skills under the tutelage of one of the best, I highly recommend Susan’s classes. NAYY, just a good friend and a great teacher.

Happy sewing!

Posted in Plugs, Susan Khalje | 3 Comments

Can You Stand Another Wrap Dress?

Tough, you’re getting one. 😉

As you may know, this weekend is both Easter and Passover. For the first time in a very, very long time we have no big plans. I’m not singing (yay, retirement from singing!), we don’t have a crowd coming over for dinner – heck, even DS the Elder is not coming home from college because he’s in the thick of studying for the next set of exams. But it’s a holiday, I like wrap dresses, I want to be a picture of domestic bliss cooking a ham dinner in a pretty dress, so I decided to make another StyleArc Kate Dress.

Okay well, seriously, I’ve been wanting to make another since I finished my first Kate Dress during last year’s Wrapapalooza. Easter as an excuse? Works for me!

You can read The Original Review to get the gist of how it went together. I’ll just highlight the differences in this one. First, I made it with Bamboo Nights ITY Jersey from Gorgeous Fabrics (on sale this weekend for 20% off, BTW).

I loved this fabric when I first saw and touched it and I love it even more made up

The other difference between this version and the first version I made is that I finished the neckline edges with a ½ inch band, To do this, I measured the length of the neckline edge, starting at the belt, going up and around the back neck and down to the other belt (which in a size 10 is 40 inches – how convenient). I cut the band to be 38 inches by 1 ½ inches. I folded the band in half along the long edge, and serged it to the neckline edge, stretching the band to match the neckline edge. This snugs the neckline a bit.
Kate 2 Neckline Band Detail
It also adds just a bit more coverage at the center front, though I have found I don’t need more coverage with this particular pattern. You can make the band wider (or narrower) to suit your taste.

Finally I used Emma Seabrooke’s SewKeysE More than Extremely Fine SSI Knit Stay Tape at the hem (not the sleeves). I’ve heard good things about her tapes, and I have to say, so far I am suitably impressed! This makes it easier to hem, but doesn’t add any stiffness or bulk. I bought several different tapes from her last month, and judging from my first impressions, I think I’ll use them a whole lot in the future. NAYY

The dress went together beautifully, and here are pictures on Shelley. If the weather is good on Sunday (they are predicting snow????!!!) I’ll get pictures on me.

Front

Front

Kate 2 Back

Back

And really, I do promise to do the post on necklines for wrap dresses. I just have to prep a bunch of samples and my sample mojo has disappeared… Soon, though.

Happy sewing!

Posted in Fabrics, StyleArc, Wrapapalooza | 7 Comments