London: Summer Travel Wardrobe

Getting Ready

Getting Ready

The Packing Challenges:

As the London departure date was fast approaching, I had to pack something for my trip…. for thirteen days…in the summer…and in a carry on.  Okay, so London is typically rainy.  Even in the summer.  Easy. Just pack what should be London-wear.

Guess what? No rain and sweltering heat instead.  Actually, any travel location can leave you staring into your suitcase wishing you had packed different items.

I only used my umbrella once and that was to block the sun from my dewy brow.  Looking back,  packing the umbrella wasted valuable suitcase space.   I rolled, ‘cubed-packed’, stuffed and crammed.   It will be fine….traveling from late June to the beginning of July should be better than Tucson in the summer, right?

So what did I do?  Packed LAYERS.  Living in a hotter climate and being sensitive to the heat, I’m usually a one layer gal….maybe two if it is cool in the morning and night.   I gathered a collection of thin long sleeved tees, camisoles and tees to provide options.  If the temps were warm or hot, I knew I wouldn’t want to lug around a coat while walking, on the Tube, or in a taxi = dewy brow for Dana.
Below is the (clickable) photo gallery of clothing and accessories I sewed, bought, or made for the trip.

*Camisoles in white and tan, not shown.

As you can see, my color scheme was white, tan, bronze, gray, black, chambray blue, and olive green.   Everything was neutral and could be mixed and matched to be worn together.   I ended up wearing everything but the black merino sweater and the Jacket in a Pocket.   I was still too warm overall but enjoyed wearing my newly made vest for a few cool mornings.

Enjoying London with Mom

Enjoying London with Mom.  Crossbody bag from Kohl’s.

Other Preparations:
1.)  I packed and weighed my rolling bag to the 22 pound international airline limit.  Turns out, nobody cared!   Maybe I was just lucky.

Headed to the airport

Headed to the airport

2.)  Toiletries were simple when packed in zip top bags.  Not glamorous, but effective. I had all of the liquids in one (upper right) and the remaining three bags contained all other essentials.

Toiletries divided up in four 1 quart bags

Toiletries divided up in four 1 quart bags

3.)  Self-packed snacks of trail mix and string cheese.   Sharing these with my mom helped stave off hunger at the airport, on the plane,  and in our hotel room.   Another benefit as we ate them was the extra space they afforded for packing souveniers.

4.) Empty water bottle.  I packed an inexpensive one that clipped to the side of my bag.  It was convenient to have for post-security.  The opening was big enough to fill with ice cubes, which I love in my drinks.

Reflections:

What I brought on the plane:
-My rolling suitcase carry on measured 22″ x 14″ x 9″.  It is a older Samsonite from Costco. Here is something similar.
-The under the seat ECOSUSI carry on from Amazon measured 18″W x 8″H x 11″L.  This was a lifesaver bag!  I LOVED the sleeve on the back to slide over the telescope handle of my rolling bag.
-Neck pillow was a MUST since I want the option to sleep on the plane as much as possible.

Most important items I packed:  Padded inserts for shoes. I thought my shoes were comfortable before I left, but the padded inserts from Dr. Scholl’s were invaluable! My handy little Fitbit clocked in over 20K steps one day, so I’m glad I had extra cushion.

Second most important item: Portable battery charger  There is nothing like the horrible feeling of being lost and having a dead phone.  If needed, I could charge my phone in my purse quickly when relying on Google Maps and the Citymapper App. (Available for Android and Apple).
Third most important item: The Yubi Voltage Power Converter.  This was used every day after returning to the hotel to charge up the extra batteries.  It was a bit overkill for this trip, but we hope to use it for other trips in the future.

Fourth most important item:  Olive green anorak jacket.  This is still one of my favorite makes.  It was a great coat to have on the plane to keep warm and use as a pillow.

What I would have packed instead:  Cotton or rayon dress or skirt that could have been worn with comfortable walking shoes or sandals.  I’m not sure I have ANY sandals that could have passed the 20K-steps-a-day test, but in hindsight, I would have begged, borrowed or stole for a pair.

What worked and why:  Tees and camisoles!  They saved me.  I’m so glad I threw a few in my bag at the last minute.

Biggest lessons learned:

1.)  I’m a bit embarrassed to admit that it was the too-big-for-my-phone recommended SD storage card.   To allow for videos and tons of pictures, we wanted a new SD card.  We were misinformed by the phone salesperson where we bought the new phone and should have double checked.  I didn’t figure it out until a few days into the trip.   I was happily clicking away, a few pictures were stored, but the phone was not capturing any future photos.  I was pretty bummed, to say the least.  So take it from me.  Verify for yourself on the largest SD card your phone can handle BEFORE you leave for your trip and make sure it is storing the pics!! 🙁

2.)  Carry on luggage.  No checked bags.  I can’t imagine what it would have been like to try and to get around with a heavy checked bag.  Being self sufficient and ready to go was so convenient.  I only regret not packing some lighter weight dress/skirt items.  This will be my new goal for all travel going forward.

Travel outfit:

When in London, you MUST take a cheesy tourist-y photo in a phone booth.

I hope this post was helpful on some level.  More tips can be found in the companion post about travel jewelry.

Have you had packing fails for your trips?  Or do you have any trip tips you want to share?   I want to hear about it!  Please leave your comments below.

-Dana

Simply Pink New Look 6340

There is nothing like triple digit temperatures to make you grab some fabric and a pattern and run to your sewing machine!  If you are looking for a quick, simple sundress to make for your summer wardrobe, look no further than New Look 6340.   Let me back up and say that I haven’t posted in a while because I have been packing (sewing) for an upcoming trip. Before that, I was cleaning up my sewing room (a HUGE task and you don’t want to see that).  I even donated some fabric!  However, due to the scorching heat outside, I have torn myself away from those tasks to make up this quick dress (and necklace).

I don’t care for the hot summers in Tucson, Arizona but I love the winters. So here I am in June and in need of the coolest possible dress to wear…EVER. Meet New Look 6340.  This pattern is perfect made out of a light weight cotton.  I made a size 14.  I purchased my fabric from Joann’s a while ago, so it qualifies as a stash buster.  This pattern offers 4 dress styles with notched, slightly scooped and V neck options.  Pockets and sleeves are optional. Two hemline variations offered and side seam ties can be added to tie in back and offer some additional shaping. I chose to leave off the ties.

Quick glance at New Look 6340

Quick glance at New Look 6340

Center front seems are not my favorite because they break up a print.  To get around this, I try to find an all over print that ‘reads’ as a solid and then the center seam doesn’t bother me as much.

Pocket shaped detail

Pocket with shaped detail

This pocket shape is not offered in the pattern, however a pleated version is offered. I decide to add a little bit of interest to the top of the pocket by shaping it with an inverted point at the center and facing it with a 1″ strip. I copied the shape on the strip and sewed the two pieces together, right sides together.  Next step wass to stitch and trim, clip the curves, turn and press. Because cotton ravels during washing, I serge-finished the pocket edges.  Press under the remaining three sides and top stitch.   I used the pattern marking for the pocket and used fusible tape to secure the pockets before stitching.

A-Line dress with center back seam

A-Line dress with center back seam

The hem is a simple 5/8″ seam turned under and top stitched.

Now you know I have to make a necklace to wear with my outfits, right?  I was fortunate to find some pink and orange ceramic beads and a metal leaf focal pendant at Joann’s.  I added some amber colored faceted crystal beads and some size 6 glass pink seed beads.  It’s a pretty simple design and easy execution with a gold toggle clasp.

Self made necklace with beads and pendant from Joanns

Self made necklace with beads and pendant from Joanns

Ceramic, glass and metal necklace

Ceramic, glass and metal necklace

So there you have it.  I came out of hiding to photograph two simple makes and now I’m on my way to be better prepared for the heat!  Now I have to get back to finishing another  TNT shirt for my husband for Father’s Day. What have you been working on for the summer?
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Easy Self Drafted Maxi Gore Skirt And More

Self-Drafted Maxi Skirt in Jewel Tones

Self-Drafted Maxi Skirt in Jewel Tones

I’ve been under the weather, so I’m bringing you this post of a self-drafted skirt as well as a jacket and tank made to go with it.  I hope the content still is helpful to you and that you can be inspired to draft your own simple pattern for a maxi skirt.

The inspiration for this post came from watching a clothing designer on QVC, a shopping network show on television.   The designer had created one simple knit skirt design and offered it in six different fabrics.  I was swept in because of the maxi skirt, the simple gore construction, and the multitude of looks created by changing up the fabric.

It occurred to me that it wouldn’t be that hard to copy.   If I did a few calculations, I could draft a simple gore pattern, multiply it by six, add some elastic, hem and voila! DONE!

I got to work by gathering my supplies.

1.)  Tracing paper (I use medical paper)
2.)  Measuring tape
3.)  Pencil or pen, marker
4.)  Paper cutting scissors
5.)  Yard stick or long ruler
6.)  Fabric (approximately 3 yards of 60″ knit for a maxi length)
7.)  Elastic to fit waist measurement ( I use 1″, but you can use whatever width you want)

*Since my hips are my widest part, I measured them first.  If your waist is your largest measurement, measure that first and use the same calculation since the skirt will drape from there and clear your hips, giving you plenty of ease.

Steps:
1.) Measure Hips.  With your measuring tape, take the first measurement of your hips plus 2″ for ease.  This number will need to be divided by 6. Example: Hip measurement = 46″ + 2″= 48 divided by 6 = 8.

Hip Measurement divided by six

Hip Measurement + 2 divided by six

2.)   Start drawing the gore.  With your long ruler or yardstick, draw two parallel lines the distance of your answer (side seams)  Mine is 8″ including the 1/2″ seam allowance.  The 8″ will be the width of each gore.

3.)   Measure the length of skirt.   If you have a favorite maxi skirt in your wardrobe, use it as a guide to determine length.   Take a measurement from your waist to the floor to get a rough idea of the length you want your skirt to be.   I like mine to hit at the ankle so that it is long enough for heels and can still be worn with flats.

4.)   Add 2″ for hem and elastic fold over to your length measurement from last step.   I use 1″ elastic, but you can use whatever width you want.  Just allow for that amount for the fold over measurement at the top of your skirt.  Continue to draw the lines from the waist down and flare out to make the gore.  I improvised on the width and size of the gore at the hem line.   Since I wanted to be able to keep the width narrow enough to fit on 60″ fabric, the gore sweep needs to stay less than 15″ wide.  Once you draw the first side of the gore flare, fold it in half and draw the other side to match.

Measure the length of skirt. Take a measurement from your waist to the floor to get a rough idea of the length you want your skirt to be.

TIP*  I used this picture below to see the different shapes of gores.  In this case, since I am doing the math for six simple gores, I think mine is closest to View B.

Gore shapes for inspriation

Gore shapes for inspiration.   I’m using View B

5.)  Draw your grain line.  This is easy.  Draw the opposite side of the gore and draw the grain line right down your center fold line.

You are done with the pattern.  Now it is time to lay it out on the fabric, cut it out and sew it up!

TIP*  Fabric requirements: I think knits work best here.  I have used poly spandex knits because they have great drape, pack well, and maintain their shape.

Here are some other versions I have made:

Once you have crafted your own gore skirt panel, you can complete this skirt in less than two hours, maybe less. I like these for the no-wrinkle factor, quick make and they are surprisingly cool in the summer even though the fabric is poly/spandex.  I bought the fabric at my local mill end store (SAS Fabrics) where they have rolls and bolts of ends sold at a discount.  I think I paid $2.99/yd for each of these pieces.

Fabric Requirements:   I prefer 60″ knits with some recovery for this skirt.  I bought 3 yards to have enough to lay out two lengths of the skirt plus extra for a tank top.

Fabric Layout:  If your fabric is a true 60″ wide, you can fold the fabric with one selvage folded to the center of the fabric, and the remaining fabric left to be a single layer.  On the folded area, place your gore and pin the grain line perpendicular to the fold.  Cut out gore.  You will end up with two cut gore pieces.  Move pattern piece to the single layer area, parallel to the folded area you just cut and cut one more gore.  Now you have three.  Repeat for one more set of three gore pieces.  Once you have 6 gore pieces, you will be ready to sew them up.

Sewing:  With right sides together, pin and stitch two gore pieces together from the hem to the waist.  Repeat six times.  Measure elastic to to your waist, cut, and sew to form a circle.  Quarter the elastic and skirt with pins.  Pin elastic to skirt with all quartered pins lining up.  Zig zag or serge around top edge of fabric to top edge of elastic, stretching while sewing.  Slowly work around entire waist. Turn down elastic towards skirt.  Stitch elastic down to skirt.  Turn up hem as desired.  Done!

Loes Hinse Tank and self drafted skirt

Loes Hinse Tank and self drafted skirt

MaxiSkirtJewelTonesBackIMG_4518
The tank top is from Loes Hinse’s #5305 Tank Dress Pattern.  This is a simple tank with turned under edges.

Tank Dress Pattern, Loes Hinse Patterns

Tank Dress Pattern, Loes Hinse Patterns

On to the Jacket:
The jean jacket is a out of print (OOP) Kwik Sew 2895.  I love this patterns and have made both short and long versions.  It is not boxy.  There is a slight curve at the waist which is visible in the drawing of the longer version, but is also present in the shorter version even though the line drawing doesn’t show it.  I made it out of a light to medium weight denim.


The only thing I don’t like about the pattern is the way the facing and collar meet.  I haven’t figured out a way to make it look better other than to re-draft the facing and have it meet the shoulder seam.  It doesn’t show when worn because it is turned under so I just go with it.

I have kept making the jacket because what I like about the jacket outweighs what I don’t like.  Below are some other versions from this pattern.

MaxiSkirtJewelTones2IMG_4512

So since my favorite pattern is OOP, here are some other options.  A stylish jean jacket design by Gertie, Butterick 6390.

Gertie Jacket, Butterick 6390

Gertie Jacket, Butterick 6390

Another alternative is Butterick 5616.

Butterick 5616 Jean Jacket

Butterick 5616 Jean Jacket

Now it is time for the shoes….I keep thinking that this gladiator, heavily strapped-ankle wrapped look is going to go away, but every summer it returns with a new twist.  These are navy IMPO blue suede cage sandals from Stein Mart.  I found them in our local store on sale.   I don’t think they are still available, but here is a similar pair.  They are actually pretty comfortable!  They zip in the back and the laces are adjustable to fit the width of my feet.
Navy CageShoes1IMG_4531

Navy cage sandals

Navy cage sandals

If I find some navy shoes, I’m feeling lucky because they seem so rare.   Do you feel lucky when you find a particular color shoe on sale?

Do you have a favorite jean jacket pattern?  Do you have successfully sewn garments that you (after-the-fact) wish had some drafting changes?  Do you tackle your own drafting?

I would love to hear your successful discoveries in the comments below.

I hope you found this post helpful, inspirational and/or interesting.  Off to the next project.

Until next time, happy sewing!

-Dana

 

 

 

Butterick 5526 Coral Shirt & Loes Hinse Gore Skirt

Tried and True Button Down Simplicity 5526

Tried and True Button Down Shirt
Simplicity 5526

This is a three part post containing a me-made shirt, skirt and necklace.  To start, coral is one of my favorite colors because it can be worn in the southwest year round.   Since i am heavily motivated to create by seeing color, when I saw this light weight fabric, I knew it would be turned into something I would wear as a topper.   It goes with my many dark colored skirts and pants.  In this case, I paired it with one of my TNT shirt patterns, Butterick 5526.   The TNT skirt pattern is thye Gore Skirt, Loes Hinse (pronounced ‘Loose Hin-sah’).

When it comes to a classic button down shirt, this Butterick has been a go-to pattern.  I love all of the styles offered in this pattern. This shirt is View C with the length of A &D.  I have made View D before (pre-blog) and love it as well.  Seeing the comeback of ruffles in recent fashion, the ruffle of View E would be a great addition to my wardrobe.

Tried and True Butterick 5526

Tried and True Butterick 5526

I deviated from my normal direction to always make shirts with bust darts or princess seams.   View C  has neither options for bust fitting, but still seems to bit me well anyway.  It also serves as a shirt-jacket worn open with a tank.

The fabric is a  cotton poly blend.  I found it at my local mill end store and I think it is a 60%/40% mix.  It doesn’t wrinkle much (except when I tie it at the waist) and I’m hoping won’t show wear after washing.  Here is more about the beaded necklace.

Baubles galore

Pantone Spring 2017 Necklace

coralshirt2img_4623

I like to use mother of pearl buttons often on my shirts because I consider them to be a neutral color, are thin, and can be both dressy or casual.

Six Gore Skirt from Loes Hinse

Six Gore Skirt from Loes Hinse

As I have written about in previous posts here, I’m partial to the Loes Hinse patterns since attending the seminar she offers with her business partner, Sharon Lyon of Casual Elegance Fabrics.   Sharon writes a newsletter called ‘The Look’, which explains how to use the patterns and fabrics to create a wardrobe suitable for many lifestyles.  If interested, you can sign up for the newsletter here.

I have lost count of how many I have made of this skirt.   The fabric is from my stash and was purchased years ago from a fabric store that is no longer with us. 🙁  It is a great skirt to wear in the summer, can be shortened  from the waist, and can be styled with boots in the cooler months.  I did view D which has six panels and six triangle-shaped gores. ( What’s a gore, you ask?   It is the triangle piece found near the hemline to provide fullness.  See View A, D and E.).

Line Drawings, Gore Skirt Loes Hinse

Line Drawings, Gore Skirt
Loes Hinse

SEWING TIP:  I learned THE BEST tip from Loes on inserting gores.

1.)  Instead of creating the intersection in which the gore must be inserted, instead, sew the small gore to one side of the longer skirt panel piece.

2.)  Serge or zig zag seam to clean finish

3.) Press seam toward gore.

4.) Pin another longer skirt panel to the gore and skirt panel you just finished.

4.) Pin and sew the next gore to THAT piece, and so on.  (First skirt panel, gore, second skirt panel, gore, etc.)  Make sure stitching includes gore at the intersection where all three pieces meet.

5.)  Repeat until all longer skirt panels have been sewn to their corresponding gores.

EASY PEAZY!!

This tip is why I have a bazilion skirts like this in my wardrobe.

Do you have a sewing construction tip that was a ‘Dah, why didn’t I think of that?’ moment that changed your world?

Until next time, happy sewing.

-Dana

 

 

 

Rhonda’s Creative Life Is Sharing Blog Love….

Blog Love

Blog Love

Returning A Favor

It is a little early for Valentine’s Day, but I am feeling the love from Rhonda.  Blog love, that is.  I was grateful to find my blog featured on Rhonda’s Creative Life Wednesday Showcase!   Rhonda wrote a thoughtful post summarizing my love for sewing, making jewelry and offering tutorials.  It is only fair to share the love and share Rhonda’s website with my viewers.  Talk about making my day!!   I was giddy with delight to see the referrals from Rhonda in my site stats because, like compliments people give you, she didn’t have to do it.  She didn’t just link to my site but wrote a nice re-cap with great collage photos to help introduce me to her readers.

Rhonda Buss

Rhonda Buss flying planes and saving dogs

Check Out Her Blog

I have to be honest….I didn’t know about Rhonda until this happened but I’m glad now!  (I’m still discovering established sewing bloggers every day).   If you have not read about Rhonda, what I can tell you is that she has been blogging since 2009, loves to fly planes and writes for Sew News Magazine.  She offers free patterns  and regularly shares the love by featuring other blogger’s posts on topics she thinks will be educational, informative or just plain fun!

Every Wednesday (Wednesday Showcase) Rhonda features a blogger that has caught her eye.   Rhonda’s posts range from collaborative sewing projects, Sunday Night Reflections, Sew Alongs or a link to take you to a site offering fashion thoughts like Londa’s Creative Sewing.  There is her Wednesday Showcase Hall of Fame on the right column on her home page to see.  Time can fly by just perusing the information on her sight.  How about some free printables to start off the year??  Those are just a few quick enticements.  Yep, this site is worth your time.

My Thoughts

The sewing community shares generously, is endlessly creative, and courageous.  I read about women tackling sewing challenges constantly by spending time and money and projects that have unknown outcomes.   Women of all ages open themselves up to possible sewing ‘fails’ by sharing how the fabric, pattern or execution may have come up short.  And who doesn’t love to read about a sewing success story?!  The constant pursuit to sharpen the sewing, fitting and technical skills takes determination, perseverance and creativity.  I am so grateful to be a part of this community and to learn from these fellow sewists!

 

Do you have some blog love to share?  Have you found a blog that inspired you to get creative, motivated, or be encouraged?  I’d love to hear.

-Dana

Denim Urban Tunic or Dress?

Urban Tunic, Indygo Junction

Urban Tunic, Indygo Junction

Yes, it looks like I am on a cowl neck dress tunic streak.   A recent post featured a McCalls 7020 cowl neck top turned dress that would make you think I have no imagination.  Really?  Another cowl neck dress?  But this one is slightly different.   It is a great jumper for grownups.  Pair it with a long sleeve tee like I did here, a turtleneck in the winter, or a tee in the summer.

My Inspiration:

The first time I saw this Indygo Junction Urban Tunic made up was when my mom and I went to the Puyallup Sewing & Stitchery Expo.  Amy Barickman, the creator of Indygo Junction, was wearing it a cute cotton paired with a white tee underneath.   That is what sold it!  I googled “amy barickman wearing urban tunic indygo junction” and found many versions of this dress.  She looks cute in everything she wears.  Here she is below, with Alex Anderson, at what looks like a quilt show promoting her line. Doesn’t she look great in this black and while version?

Amy Barickman, Alex Anderson

Amy Barickman, Alex Anderson

Pattern Features:

It is a simple silhouette in an a-line shape featuring bust darts, bias collar and back zipper.  Some features could be eliminated to change the look completely.   Consider the idea of using a smaller piece of fabric (a great fabric stash buster) and eliminate the cowl, zipper and pockets resulting in a perfect tunic or dress for the summer.

Indygo Junction Urban Tunic Line Drawing

Indygo Junction Urban Tunic Line Drawing

I eliminated the zipper, so I just slip it over my head.  An exposed zipper would be a nice feature as in the line drawing above.

I chose to not insert a back zipper

I chose to not insert a back zipper

What I love about a-line silhouettes:
1.)  Clean, unobstructed front view for prints and patterns
2.) Looks casual but dressier than pants
3.) Versatile: jumper, dress or tunic
4.) NOT body conscious.

If you’ve read my other posts, you know I love sewn down pockets….but not crazy about the little sway-back-wrinkle action going on when my hands are in the pockets.  I might consider some fish eye back darts to take up the excess.  The Badonkadonk strikes again.  If I increase the width on the sides, it resembles a tent, so I purposely keep the width just enough to where it skims the lines of my body.   I won’t be running away from this a-line silhouette anytime soon but I do need to consider  how I’m going to keep the shape but get rid of the wrinkles.

This fabric is a soft denim with some heft – maybe an 8oz. (?) from my stash. Since I barely had enough fabric, it is a little short for me.  Tights are a MUST.  The bias cowl adds so much to the style and it drapes very well.

Urban Tunic Pattern

Urban Tunic Pattern

The bust darts look a bit high here (below) and no wrinkles like in the picture above.   Movement = wrinkles.


The next version will probably be in a fun cotton print with a tee for spring because I’m a copy-catter.

Goofing around...

Goofing around…

I am a fan of the Indygo patterns.  I made up a trench coat pattern here.  Be aware that many of the Indygo Patterns often recommend cottons or wovens rather than knits.  Check out all of the new Women’s Clothing patterns on Indygo Junction.

On to another project.

Happy Sewing,

– Dana

McCalls 7020 Cowl Top Turned Dress

Cowl Neck top with Chico's necklace

Cowl Neck top with Chico’s necklace (old)

As I move into 2017 and take inventory of my lengthy list of sewing projects, I am reminded of the bloggers who took great time to review their versions of sewing ‘Hits and Misses’ of 2016.   There seemed to be a plan from the start of the year to execute specific garments for their wardrobe.  This requires organization and planning skills, which I admire.   However, I am more impulsive.  If I need a jacket, I make one.  If I get inspired by a great pattern, I collect the fabric and necessities and get started.  Maybe perusing blogs will inspire me to make something similar because I can! Allowing myself to be drawn into a creative swirl often results in garments that have served a practical purpose,  a creative ‘itch’ that needed to be scratched, or because I needed some time alone to recharge in my happy sewing space.

Have you ever come across a pattern that just draws you in but you don’t know why?  This simple McCalls 7020 pattern did just that.  Maybe it was the fabric, or how it looked on the model or maybe it’s simplicity.   Not sure.  At first, I planned to make a top (View B) out of this to wear with jeans.  But then I realized that I had enough fabric to extend the top into a dress minus pockets.  I love the idea of pockets and I truly love them but only if they can be sewn down either to the waistband or directly to the front of the garment.

Cowl Neck of McCalls 7020

Cowl Neck of McCalls 7020

My favorite part of this pattern is the cowl neck. The pattern piece is weirdly shaped which is probably why it drapes so nicely.  This fabric is a waffle weave Henley-like fabric purchased at my local mill end store.  Since fabric content is a guess at that store, I would say it’s contents would be a rayon, cotton and poly blend.

( Side note about mystery fabric content:  My rule is the Fabric Must Stand The Washer And Dryer Test.  How will it survive?  Sometimes the fabric improves with washing and drying.  You may choose to launder the fabric differently into the future, but that first washing is crucial.   The results of the washing may change the direction of the project.  Is it softer?   Does it have a new texture, drape?…etc.  Remember that you are getting a great deal because there are NO FRILLS, UNKNOWN FABRIC CONTENT OR CARE DESCRIPTION.  You are on your own.  I happen to love this fabric challenge because my success rate is about 95%.  Maybe it comes from years of working with fabric that I am confident that it will turn out.  Like most things, practice makes perfect. )

Back to the dress – It is a bit thin for a dress, but since I knew I would wear it with tights, it was fine.   I made up a size  M 12/14.

My son’s dog, Outlaw, was a bit bored, but still well behaved while we took some photos.

Are we done yet?

One construction change I might make for next time is to eliminate the center front and back seams and instead place them on the fold.  It would also save some sewing time making this an even quicker project to complete.   The center seams interrupt the pattern if using a print.

It makes sense in View C where stripes are featured.

Man, this is boring?  Fetch, anyone??

Here, you can see the front riding up.  It appears I need a Full Bust Adjustment!  Hummmm.  I don’t usually need to make that alteration, but when I see the front hem line drawing up, it usually means that fabric is being taken up by a larger bust.  I found myself tugging at the dress to keep the front even with the back.

My second change would be to make the bicep/upper arm circumference larger.  My goal was to have this be a looser knit shift dress all around, but the sleeves are a bit tight.

I will probably make this again but choose stripes instead and make a top and widen the sleeves to be more comfortable.   Now that I’m thinking of it, I have some striped fabric in my stash that I could use for all of these changes.  It would also be nice to add a slightly hi-low hemline to the top.   Stay tuned…

These days, a loose style cowl neck is the closest I will be getting to a turtleneck.   I don’t seem to need many layers year round while living in Arizona.  This loose cowl also allows space for a necklace.

Please be a squirrel....

Please be a squirrel….

Using this same pattern, I loved seeing Mimi G Style’s hoodie.  Have you tried this pattern?  Thoughts?

Happy sewing-

Dana

Chiffon, Cotton, Ruffles and Dots

Simp2IMG_4609Yes, this post is going out just under the wire before we move in to 2017.   This will conclude another wonderful year of sewing experiences.   I can’t imagine what I would do if I didn’t have this great hobby/skill to rely on for a creative and useful outlet.  I am grateful to my sewing group that meets regularly so that we can maintain our friendships, sharpen our skills and share information.   There are so many patterns, techniques and challenges out there to conquer for 2017.  I also can’t wait to discover more creative people, wonderful blogs, instructional tutorials and places to visit in the new year.

Moving on…..polka dots, chiffon and a hi-low hemline sum up this quick post.   Oh, and a butt ruffle.  Every once in a while, I’m in the mood for a polka dot print.  I prefer a random or scattered dot, but this one caught my eye and seemed different because of the subtle cross-hatch design.  While shopping at Walmart for other items, my cart mysteriously meandered over through the fabric/craft beading area (how does that happen:/)?   I usually do a quick perusing over the fabrics and beads to see if anything is new or on sale.  ( I have learned over the years to keep my eye open for surprises everywhere. Some of my greatest finds were found in the most unlikely places! ).  So, there it was.   I immediately envisioned this fabric paired with black chiffon for the back-ruffle.   Next would be the sewing pattern.  Simplicity 1013 was the winner!

Big surprise…choosing black again when I have written about wearing more color here and here.  I might as well give up trying to remove it from my wardrobe.

The necklace is old from JCPenny’s.  I found a similar Crystal Starburst Necklace from Banana Republic and the Midnight Crystal Necklace from J. Crew as possible alternatives.

Simplicity 1013, View C

Simplicity 1013, View C

I cut out View C in a size 14.  Unfortunately, the cotton doesn’t have any stretch to it, which could have been an overall game changer for this shirt.  The chiffon was from my stash, but any sheer black fabric would work.  I wasn’t sure how the butt ruffle, butt flap, etc., would actually look on my rear.  ( A dark fabric, for sure ).  Turns out, there is enough fabric to move freely and it doesn’t ride up.  I was hoping it would fit as loosely as it looks on the slender models……..but nope.
Simp1013 5IMG_4558

Butt ruffle from the side

Butt ruffle from the side

As you can see, the ruffle is longer in the back. I think if it had been shorter, this pattern would not have caught my eye at all.

Simplicity 1013 with Bias Pockets

Simplicity 1013 with Bias Pockets

Here is a glimpse of the pockets I added on top of the sewn bust darts.   I cut the pockets out on the bias because I thought it would add a little interest with the subtle plaid hatching going on with the polka dots.    After the fact, my thoughts on the pockets:

A) I’m not sure I should have added the pockets since the fabric is quite busy.

B) The pockets flatten the dart a bit, defeating the purpose of a nice curved shape over the bust.   They also made the bust area stiff by adding extra fabric, creating this tent-like front.

C) I’m not sure they added any aesthetic or practical appeal to the shirt.  I’m certainly won’t be putting anything in the them.  Oh well, I will still wear it knowing that I’m not in love with the pocket addition.

Checking the fit by waving to my neighbor

Checking the fit by waving to my neighbor

I like the look of a fitted button up, but compared to knits, they feel confining.   I suppose the next step would be to wear shirts that are bigger, but then it’s easy to slip down into Frump Land. This shirt fits a little tight through the shoulders and if I reach out, the sleeves ride up a bit.  I might go up a size which I often do with fitted shirts.  Another solution is to fold up the sleeves or turn them up and in place with the buttoned tab (view B).

Over all, it is a nice shirt and I will probably make it again.   I would consider making it again but make view D with the pleated back even though I have loads of patterns in my sewing queue.  If I run across another inspiring fabric, maybe I will give it a go.

A similar style shirt comes to mind;  the Archer Shirt by Grainline Studios.  The back ruffle seam is a bit lower which may not be suitable for my ample rump curvaceousness…

Archer Shirt from Grainline

Archer Shirt from Grainline Studios

The Archer has more pattern pieces overall and may not be able to be sewn up as quickly as the Simplicity 1013 shirt.

I may look for copy the fabric combinations on the pattern envelope for inspiration.  The back piece on the Simplicity pattern only takes 5/8 yd, so it could be a feature for a fancy shear or busting out a small piece from your fabric stash….maybe a plaid?

Would you be willing to taking a risk on making a back flap ruffle shirt?

May your 2017 be filled with successful sewing endeavors!

-Dana

Men’s Ties Christmas Tree Skirt Tutorial

Family Ties turned into a Christmas Tree Skirt

Family Ties turned into a Christmas Tree Skirt

Men’s ties make the perfect circle skirt to dress up your tree.   If the male family members in your house despise wearing ties (like my husband), and they are sitting in a drawer, gather them together for this quick project.   I was lucky enough to receive my dad’s and uncle’s discarded ties after their professional lives no longer called for them.   I also added a few from thrift stores to complete the project.   It has become a family tradition to use this skirt under our tree every year as a way to include some of the past and bring it into the present.

*A little disclaimer: I made this tree skirt before I started my blog, so this tutorial is explaining how to make this after the fact. Hopefully, I can explain the process clearly enough so you can easily make one for yourself…or give to someone else.

I gathered 46 ties to assemble this tress skirt, including the tie used in the center hole.
Here is a list of what you will need:
1). Approximately 42-52 men’s ties, both skinny and wide, or enough to make a circle around the base of your tree
2). Approximately 40″ of Single Fold Bias Tape (or you could use a strip of Christmas fabric)
3). Muslin or cotton fabric for base
4). Thread to match ties

Underside of tree skirt using muslin fabric

Underside of tree skirt using muslin fabric

1.) Draw a large circle out of the muslin fabric (above photo) making it a few inches shorter than ties to allow the points of ties to hang off (below).  Mine measures 20.5 inches from center circle to outer edge.

Tie ends overlap the base fabric

Tie ends overlap the base fabric

2.) Serge or finish the outer edge of the skirt (above).

Cut opening from center circle to outer edge

Cut opening from center circle to outer edge

3.) Draw a center circle. (The center circle needs to be large enough to fit around the stem/trunk of your tree). Cut out center circle hole and continue cutting stright out to the edge creating an opening to slip around tree base (above photo).  One tie will be used to trim around center circle in Step 9.
4.) Finish straight edge with bias tape or scrap strip of Christmas fabric. In photo above, you can see I used green bias tape from my bias tape scraps.

Audition tie layout

Audition tie layout

5.) Using muslin as my base fabric, audition all of the ties next to each other and pin in place overlapping each tie. Continue in a circle until the look and arrangement of ties is pleasing.
6.) Overlap the ties near the center circle (below).   They will be roughly cut and uneven and its okay.  Ignore the tie used to finish the circle.  Yours will not look like this at this stage but will after Step 9.

Narrow sections of ties overlapped at center circle

Narrow sections of ties overlapped at center circle

7.) Top stitch ties in place overlapping each tie over another.  Continue working around the entire circle until the first and last two ties cover the bias tape on the right side of the skirt.  When placed under the tree, the ties will overlap, disguising the opening.

Underside of tree skirt using muslin fabric

Underside of tree skirt using muslin fabric

8). After all of the ties are sewn to the base muslin fabric, it is time to trim the center circle and clean up the edge. Cut the ties evenly around center circle edge.
9).  Fold one tie in half and center around circle leaving ends to be used to tie in a bow. Stitch, enclosing all rough edges of ties.

Completed center circle with remaining tie for bow

Completed center circle with remaining tie for bow

You are done!….except for the presents.

Completed tree skirt

Completed tree skirt

Time to add presents

Time to add presents

Place under your tree and Merry Christmas!
If you are interested in other quick Christmas presents, check out my Snap Bag Tutorial or Curling Iron Cover Tutorial.

– Dana

Simplicity 2153 Silly Putty Jacket

Tried and True Simplicity 2153

Tried and True Simplicity 2153

Am I dating myself if I ask you about the color of Silly Putty?  You know, the dirty, well-loved Silly Putty after it has been used on newsprint a few times.  Looks a little gross, but it provided lots of fun for me when I was a kid….and there is interesting history of the gooey stuff to read here.   And if you can’t get enough, put in Silly Putty in Google images to see the many playful uses of this stuff.

The dirty, well-used Silly Putty

The dirty, well-used Silly Putty

Anyway, when I see this pinkish-brown color I think of Silly Putty and I happen to love it.   Here is another version from the same pattern green jacket I made here with a few changes.
I absolutely love this OOP Simplicity 2153 pattern.   It is still available for sale on various sites on the web.  I have plans to make this up in a khaki twill fabric to have a safari-like vest or jacket.  My favorite part of the jacket is the length which means my hands fit comfortably into the pockets and that it covers my rear.  A definite plus in my book.

Bum Coverage

Bum Coverage

The fabric is a linen and rayon blend, which means that it gets a rumpled look but it breathes well. It is also lightweight, which is important for layering and living in the desert.   If I need more warmth, adding a scarf usually does the trick.

Silly Putty Back View

Silly Putty Back View

In the above picture, the jacket looks like it has white splotches all over it, but it is just shadows.  It is roomy without looking too big.  I made a size 14.

Below is an up close shot of the pockets with the selvedges sewn around the tops of the pockets.   This was a different approach than with the olive version.  I tried to achieve a worn in look that didn’t look too formal or fussy, not that this would ever look like a formal jacket, but I wanted to be able to pull out of the closet, put it on and go.
Pockets IMG_4383

Collar Ties

Collar Ties

Above, you can see that I used the selvedge and incorporated it into the pocket and collar.  I always look at the selvedges of the fabrics I purchase and see how they hold up during the laundering phase.  If they survive and have an appealing look, I experiment with ways to include them into the garment.  The collar contains elastic in the outer edge and is sewn to the ties.  I won’t be cinching it up so leaving it this way just makes the collar stand up, stay in place and ready for wear.

Inside elastic casing with bias tape

Inside elastic casing with bias tape

I purchased my zipper for the olive jacket and this jacket from ZipperShipper.  They have a great selection, good prices and fast shipping.  I guessed on the ‘medium brown’ color knowing it wouldn’t be a perfect match for this weird shade of brown,  but it works and the quality of the zipper is great.

Elastic casing made with bias tape

Elastic casing made with bias tape

Something I repeated from the olive green jacket was the elastic waist casing.   I pulled the elastic to a comfortable measurement, attached the ties and then knotted them.  This means that I can grab the coat and GO.  No fussing about with a fidgety waist drawstring.  I can always count on the elastic gathering evenly.

Possible accessories

Possible accessories

If I want to add a little more interest, I have a me-made necklace I made out of acrylic beads or a scarf to pair with it.

Optional additions

Optional additions

Finished product

Finished product

There is a reason why a M-65 Army utility jacket like this has been so popular over the years for military, fishing, hunting and fashion.  I get it!  It provides pockets galore, no-fuss practical style and if you happen to sew, it can be made up in many types of fabric.  If you happen to be interested in the history of such a jacket, here is an article worth reading.

Thanks for stopping by and happy sewing.

-Dana

 

 

Sew Creative, L’Toffe Fabrics

Sew Creative store sign, Ashland,Oregon

Sew Creative store sign, Ashland, Oregon

Fun with a jean jacket

Fun with a jean jacket

If your sewing skills drift from garments to quilts to crafts, you will enjoy stepping into Sew Creative in Ashland, Oregon.  Since I have a love for sewing garments, I have chosen to let others perfect the quilting skills while I continue to master fabric manipulation on the human form. That being said, I find myself drawn to quilt stores in my travels because I love the merchandising, colors, quilts on display, kits for sale and being in a sewing related environment. It helps if the quilt stores carry any drapey rayons or garment-ish fabrics. Sometimes there is a cotton I can’t resist. There is also the tug to support the smaller, locally owned shops in some way if I can.

Kits for Sale, SewCreative

Kits for Sale, SewCreative

A great example of great merchandising

A great example of great merchandising

Don’t you love that modern square quilt?  How about the one on the wall?  I truly appreciate the time, artistry and perseverance to complete beautiful quilts of all kinds.  I think I have mentioned my impatient nature in previous posts which means that I love to whip up a quick tee or dress to scratch that immediate gratification itch.

Store samplings

Store samplings

License plate art

License plate art in the window display

Also on Main Street in Ashland was a fabric store called  Fabric of Vision.  It is closed now at the time of this writing and I’m bummed.  It was a great store featuring garment fabrics, patterns and notions and beautifully merchandised.  The owner closed it in January 2016.   I won’t post the pictures I had because it makes me sad and I would be torturing you with a place you can’t visit anymore.  Instead, I will move on to another fabrics store, L’Etoffe Fabrics located in Springfield, Oregon near Eugene.  The Contact page provides a map.

L'Etoffe, Springfield, Oregon

L’Etoffe, Springfield, Oregon

Here, Ina (pronounced Eena) and mom are enjoying the feel of luscious, imported fabrics. Ina was warm and welcoming and willing to share her story with us.   Ina has a background in fashion design and wanted a change.  She teaches classes and manages the many details of the store.  Lining the walls are imported fabrics, displays with independent patterns, classes and sample garments to tempt sewists.

L'Etoffe fabrics for sale

L’Etoffe fabrics for sale

L'Etoffe goodies for sale

L’Etoffe goodies for sale

L'Etoffe3IMG_4468

More imported fabrics

More imported fabrics

One more fabric purchase

One more fabric purchase

Mom could not help herself…she had to buy some beautiful herringbone fabric for a jacket.  Anther project to add to the list!    I picked out an Italian rayon that had my favorite colors in it (post to follow).  Ina wrote a great article about how women confess secrets to her about their fabric stashes on her blog here.

Ina and Sandy, L'Etoffe Fabrics

Ina and Sandy, L’Etoffe Fabrics

While we were there,  Sandy Ericson, the producer of Center for Pattern Designwebsite, dropped by. Sandy provides a wealth of information on her site to further develop pattern designing skills. Videos and free resources are just a click away.

So there you have it. Oregon destinations worth your time. If you didn’t get a chance to read about my time with Diane Ericson (no relation to Sandy Ericson that I know of) click here to read my previous post. These Oregon ladies are talented, welcoming and knowledgeable.

Thanks for reading. Please comment and/or share with other sewists!
-Dana

Surface Design With Diane Ericson

Okay, you thought I gave up posting, right? Not exactly. I just took a sabbatical from blog posting.  I have some things to share, so I hope you’ll stay tuned.  I have been busy with a tiring job for the last few months and all my energy went to it.  This blog post is about a trip I took last November and I am just getting to tell you about it now.   Fortunately, with the support of my husband and family, I have reached a new chapter in my life now where I am working for myself doing sewing jobs for others, teaching and making jewelry.  I hope this post has some value to you as I offer some destinations in Oregon to visit, some eye candy, and reflections from the trip.

Diane Ericson and Dana in the studio

Diane Ericson and Dana in the studio

Let’s go back in time for a minute….last Fall, I was fortunate to visit my mom in Oregon. While I was there, we visited Diane Ericson’s studio located in Ashland and took a class from her. What fun!  She was an inspiration to free up the typical thought process when creating and take it in another direction.  After a brief tour and some rifling through her beautiful art-to-wear garments, it was clear to me that I would be seeing clothing construction in a new way.  Diane’s foundation in clothing construction and design allows her the freedom to manipulate fabric in new ways to construct unusual collars, cuff treatments, sleeve alterations, etc.  To top it off, she specializes in surface design with paints to add more unique artistry and color to her creations.

Table set up for painting with stencils

Table set up for painting with stencils

The table was set up for us with sample fabrics provided different textures and colors to use with stencils.   With Diane’s easy going approach, she gave clear suggestions and instructions of how to hold the sponge just right, how much paint to use and how to finesse the touch on the stencil to get the best look.

Diane demonstrating painting with a stencil

Diane demonstrating painting with a stencil

Dana's attempt at surface design

Dana’s attempt at surface design

Stenciling around buttonholes

Stenciling around buttonholes

Just when you think you’ve seen it all, she shows another way to use the stencils…around buttonholes.  If the stencil design is large enough, the button will not hide it.  This technique is a placket made by joining two fabrics, sewing the seams and leaving enough room for a buttonhole and then continue sewing until the next buttonhole, etc.

More surface design

More surface design

It was great to see Diane’s use of various stencils with one garment.  A simple turn of a stencil or using just part of a stencil design created great looks.

Practice of stenciling on half size

Practice of stenciling on half size

Above, using manila paper, Diane practiced the design on a smaller version of the garment to test placement and color.

Studio Merch

Studio items for sale

Once the painting is over, there plenty of patterns, fabrics, stencils and inks/paints to purchase for experimentation at home.  Samples are up all over the studio for inspiration.

Studio Merch for sale

Studio merchandise for sale

Eye Candy Ashland Vest

Eye Candy Clothing

Artistic vest

Artistic vest

Decorative stitching and creative closure

Decorative stitching and creative closure

I had to take a picture of this showing some different techniques of stitching, painting, layering of fabrics and stenciling.  The button closure is interesting and creative–Diane style!

Getting the vision on paper

Getting the vision on paper

Long vest with center stenciling

Long vest with center stenciling

You can read more about this long Ventana Jacket pattern #327 here from a Pattern Review article in Threads magazine.

Double-sided wool coat with details

Double-sided wool coat with details

This double-sided coat was my favorite item because of the shape and pattern, the fabric and the techniques Diane chose to make it so special.  I pulled the front open a bit when I took the picture so you could see the stenciling in the inside of the collar and down the front.  It is a peek-a-boo feature visible when the collar rolls back or the jacket is worn unfastened.

Stenciling on the inside of the coat

Stenciling on the inside of the coat

WoolCoatButtonIMG_4440

Creative closure

Creative closure

Diane shirt from Threads issue

Diane’s shirt from Threads issue

This was a shirt featuring a paper airplanes stencil and fabric manipulation.  Who can resist flying a little paper airplane?  A little whimsy in your sewing brings about a smile.

Peeking at her website, Diane will be featured in the June/July 16′ issue of  Vogue Pattern Magazine featuring Curves and Angles: Designing with Art Fabrics.  You can read more about the article on her sight before getting to read the article in full.  Hopefully, you can get your hands on a copy at a local fabric store, bookstore or online.

Diane’s style would be called ‘funky, or ‘edgy’ or ‘out there’.   Her love for the tactile qualities of many fabrics is apparent in her work.  It may not suit all, but I like the creative departure from what is often found in the fashion blog world.  This is another reason why I love to sew;  self expression is possible by wearing handmade garments.  How cool is that? Aaaannnd, how about some surface design, fabric combinations, creative closures, and top stitching to name a few..?  It truly was a treat to meet Diane and be in her presence to hear and see how her creative mind works.  To learn more about more about the many sides of Diane, click here.

Thanks for scrolling through my pics.  To read more about my other Oregon adventures, click here.

Happy Sewing,

Dana