7.01.2016

hot fun

Mood Fabrics - CCF Sophie Swimsuit

Hello friends!!! First of all, I want to thank everyone for your kind words on my post about Lucille leaving us. I'm sorry I didn't respond to each of you individually, but please know that your thoughts and condolences were deeply deeply appreciated. It is such a comfort to know that so many of you can relate to the very real feelings of grief that we go through when a beloved pet passes.  I know it might seem silly, but writing that post helped me immensely to mourn my sweet girl and move ahead with her memory in my heart.

And as promised, I have been able to get back to what I love and what makes me happy - making and sharing my creative pursuits with you all! And first up is the Sophie Swimsuit from Closet Case Files! I've already shared this suit over on the Mood Sewing Network, but I'm excited to write about it here because I have lots of thoughts on it! So grab yourself a cup of tea (hot or iced) and get ready for a long post!

Mood Fabrics - CCF Sophie Swimsuit

I had actually volunteered to be a pattern tester for the Sophie Swimsuit, so the version I'm sharing is from the beta files.  However, I ended up backing out of the testing process after my dog died because I just wasn't feeling up to it. Heather mentioned she made some changes based on the testers feedback but I feel like the version I made is close enough to the finished pattern that it is safe to share.  I made View B - the high waisted bikini, and before you all ask, yes this version is supposed to have straps, and mine did, but I will explain the saga that led me to photographing it strapless a little later. 

Mood Fabrics - CCF Sophie Swimsuit

I'm just gonna come right out and say that I love this suit.  Especially the top.  Can I get a little TMI here for a second? Of course I can... it's my blog... I do what I want! As I'm sure I've mentioned before, I've been committed to working out regularly for the past two years or so now, and while it's been an overwhelmingly positive change in both my life and my body, one thing that I haven't quite been able to get a grasp on is my boobs. My boobs have majorly shrunk in the past few years and I'm totally flummoxed as to what size bra to wear.  I know I could go to a little lingerie boutique and have myself measured, but the truth is boutique bras are just not in my budget.  And yes, I could make my own bras, but my experience has been that the trial and error of getting a good fit with a bra pattern is a bigger waste of time and money than just buying a slightly ill-fitting bra off the rack.  So I've been buying my bras from Target, in the smallest size they have - a 34B.  I know I'm not a 34B but the fit isn't that bad, so I get away with it.  

Mood Fabrics - CCF Sophie Swimsuit

Enter the Sophie pattern... this is essentially a bra you can go swimming in, guys.  It is so supportive. And the sizing - while not the traditional A, B, C, D cup that you get with bras - is essentially the same. There are 5 separate cup sizes for every size.  I can't even imagine the nightmare it was to draft this, but I'm so glad Heather went the extra mile because it really pays off. You get the band size by measuring your underbust, so around your ribcage with all the air exhaled, then you take a comfortable measurement of your full bust (around the widest part of your back and over the fullest part of your breasts, usually the nipple) while wearing your best fitting bra. Subtract the difference between the two and you get your cup size.  So for me, my underbust measurement was 28" and my full bust measurement is 33".  That is a 5 inch difference which put me at a size 2 with a size 5 cup.

Mood Fabrics - CCF Sophie Swimsuit

This definitely gave me pause because it is so much smaller than my normal size in CCF patterns - I usually wear between a 6 or an 8, but I decided to trust the sizing and I'm so glad I did.  This is the best fitting swimsuit, bra whatever I have worn in recent memory! It's even more flattering with the straps as they help give that extra oomph, but even without it, this top wasn't budging.  I'm really hoping Heather does some tutorials on turning this into a bra because I need this in my life! Now you might be thinking that with my chest size support isn't really an issue, but guys, it is. Now obviously I do not have the experience that my larger chested sisters have, but what I do have is a rack that used to be pretty spectacular, but is now kinda deflated and saggy. Yes. TMI. Get over it. I need all the help I can get to hoist those girls up!

Mood Fabrics - CCF Sophie SwimsuitMood Fabrics - CCF Sophie Swimsuit

By now you're probably wondering what the heck happened to my swimsuit bottoms... Is this some lame action flick where the leading lady's clothes get artfully ripped throughout the movie to reveal more skin? No, no it's not.  I drafted an alternate pair of bottoms for my Sophie swimsuit, and while I completely understand that these are probably not to most women's liking I decided to share them nonetheless.  Surely I can't be the only lady out there who has a weird nostalgia for those high-cut legged bikini bottoms from the late 70's and 80's? You know, the kind that make you look like you have legs for days, and conjure images of a healthily athletic Christie Brinkley cavorting on the cover of Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Edition? Or a fierce Grace Jones? No? Only me? The rest of you are just remembering the perma-wedgie that said swim bottoms induce? Ok fine then... *takes teeny weeny swim bottoms and goes and plays at her own sand castle...*

Mood Fabrics - CCF Sophie SwimsuitMood Fabrics - CCF Sophie SwimsuitMood Fabrics - CCF Sophie Swimsuit

Honestly, I think both bottoms will have their place in my swim wardrobe.  The high waisted, fuller coverage bottoms will be awesome for pool parties, and family time, and the teeny bikini bottoms will be great for my alone time on the beach.

Mood Fabrics - CCF Sophie Swimsuit

As far as construction goes this swimsuit is really no different than making a bra and panties.  My one major tip is to label your two bottom cup pieces because they look super similar and it is easy to get them confused. Ask me how I know... After making two left cups (somehow... I'm still scratching my head about that one...) I cottoned on to this and cut a second pair marking the outer cup with an "O" and the inner cup with an "I" and also drawing arrows to signify which way was up.  I did this on both my foam pieces and my fabric pieces and construction went much smoother. 

With the shaped, three piece foam cups, the underwire channeling and all the elastic, this is most definitely the most complicated suit I've ever made, but it's totally worth it.  Honestly, none of it is that hard, it's just a touch finnicky at times.  If you're at all nervous about making this suit I highly suggest getting Heather's swimsuit workshop.  I'm actually thinking of picking it up just so I can feel like I'm sewing with Heather by my side...

Mood Fabrics - CCF Sophie Swimsuit

Sewing swimwear does require some special materials, so let's talk about those for a bit.  My awesome, graphic, broken glass print fabric is from, where else, Mood Fabrics.  It is 95% polyester and 5% spandex, making it great for swimwear and activewear.  I liked it so much I chose to use it all over, but the Sophie swimsuit definitely lends itself to color and print blocking.  My swimwear lining, underwires, underwire channeling, swimwear elastic, and G-hooks are all from Bra-makers Supply (the foam for the cups was in my stash, but I think originally it was from Bra-makers Supply too... or SewSassy...?).  Overall I'm really happy with the quality of all these things (especially the swim lining... it's niiiiiiice) EXCEPT for the plastic G-hooks. Oy vey...

Mood Fabrics - CCF Sophie Swimsuit

Let me tell you a little story of plastic hardware, a handmade bikini, a sewing blogger, and the hot, hot Texas heat... After finishing my Sophie bikini two weekends ago I decided to take it for a test drive to the beach, like you do.  No sooner had I set myself up in my beach chair, book in hand, the Gulf of Mexico stretching in front of me as far as the eye can see (and a thunderstorm brewing behind me, but let's forget about that part right now) when I bent over to get my water bottle and felt the back of my suit come undone.  I reached around and realized that my plastic G-hook closure had actually snapped off at the joint.  My straps on the suit criss-crossed in the back so the suit stayed on pretty well, and I actually sat back in my chair and read for awhile until the brewing thunderstorm, and my busted swimsuit top resigned me to call it a day.  Back at home I replaced the G-hook with one of the other several I had ordered, and decided to be more careful putting the suit on and taking it off, thinking that I may have bent the plastic in my behind-the-back struggling...

Fast forward to last weekend when I wanted to go to the beach, again, and shoot some blog photos while I was at it.  I put on my suit and, wouldn't you know it, one of the small G-hooks that attaches the strap to the suit front broke at the same joint.  I had extra so I quickly went into my sewing room and replaced it.  I had the car so I decided to drive out to a more secluded beach to take photos.  After lugging all my beach gear, and my camera and tripod, out to the spot in these photos I bent down to set everything down and pop! There goes the back G-hook I had already replaced! I was frustrated, but determined to get these photos, so I went back home, replaced the stupid plastic G-hook, examined the others for weak spots, then drove back out to the same beach, set all my stuff up, turned on my camera and.... no battery.  Nearly in tears, I drove back home, got the camera battery from the charger, grabbed another bikini top just in case, and drove back out to the beach.  Lugged all my shit to my spot, set up the camera and tripod and pop! One of the G-hooks on my other strap broke! So at that point I said fuck it, removed the straps from the bikini and shot the photos strapless! Thankfully the back hook lasted through the photo shoot and a quick dip in the water, but I've learned my lesson. No more plastic hardware! The only thing I can think is that these were just not equipped to deal with the amount of sweat, sunscreen and heat that I require from my swimwear.  I certainly wasn't putting them under undo stress!

Needless to say, I have an order for metal hooks already placed...

Mood Fabrics - CCF Sophie Swimsuit

Well alright cats and kittens! I think that's enough cheeky pictures of my bum and my cheesecake posing and rambling on about boobs and swimsuits and teeny plastic pieces for one blog post.  If you have any questions please don't hesitate to leave them for me in the comments! And I'll be back soon with a recent quick make!

xx

6.10.2016

sweet lucille

lucilleandmuscles

Hey there friends.  This is a sad post to write, but I wanted to share a little of what's been going on behind the scenes the past few weeks.  As much as I like to try to keep this blog about my creative pursuits and focus on the good things in life, I also feel like I can't really get back to those posts until I talk about this first.

lucillefacelucilleandtoy

Nick and I had to say goodbye to our dog, Lucille, a few weeks ago.  I know many of you have shared when your pets have passed away and so I'm sure you can understand the heartache we've been feeling.  Lucille was 10 years old, but her death was sudden and unexpected.  She was her usual happy self when both of us came home from work, but began acting funny around 8 or 9 pm - not eating dinner, breathing heavy. She continued to decline throughout the night and by 5am she was gone.  There was nothing we could do.  The only bright side is that we were both there with her in the end, and though she was in pain and scared, it wasn't prolonged.  And I think we both feel somewhat grateful that we didn't have to make any hard decisions about putting her down.

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Lucille was 2 years old when I met Nick.  He got her as a puppy while living in the Shenandoah Valley in Virginia.  She was a mutt and the runt of the litter, and she stole his heart by constantly untying his shoes.  She was no bigger than a loaf of bread.  When I met Lucille for the first time I remember thinking "wow, that is a good dog."  I've always loved dogs, but Lucille was the first dog I ever met who was truly a good dog.  She was amazingly sweet tempered with everyone and everything - even when we brought our shitty cat, Mister Muscles, into the house (Muscles looooved Lucille, by the way).  She was also incredibly smart and well behaved.  She was just easy. And she had nothing to give but love. I always joked that Lucille resented me showing up in Nick's life - that she was Nick's #1 girl, but that couldn't have been further from the truth.  She was my #1 girl, too. 

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I've never thought of myself as the type of person who considers my pets "my children" or "my furbabies".  But Lucille was my family.  It's amazing how much she was a part of the fabric of our lives - in ways I've never thought about until she's gone.  I miss the sound of her nails click clicking on the hardwood floors.  I miss her heavy sighs, and her snores.  I miss the weight of her head in my lap and the constant presence of her at my feet.  I miss her velvety ears and soulful eyes. I miss having an excuse to go for walks. I miss that there is no fanfare - no one visibly excited - when I open the drawer to get the 'poo bags'. I miss her toys and her food bowl and I even miss her shedding. Thunderstorms take me by surprise (Lucille hated thunderstorms and would begin panting and shaking well before we were aware that it was even going to rain).  I still pause every time I open the front door, thinking she's about to run out to me.  

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I feel a bit like a crazy person that my feelings of grief and loss are so shockingly profound, but I know those of you that have loved and lost an amazing animal will understand.  I wish there was more decorum allowed for the loss of a pet.  Lucille deserves better than a blog post, but sadly, that's all I have to give.

Thank you for letting me share my little heartache with you all.  I'm hoping that in sharing this sadness I can get back to posting about what I love and what makes me happy without feeling like a fraud. I just didn't feel like I could gloss over this like it never happened.

sallieandlucille

I miss you, Sweet Lucille.

xx




4.30.2016

flower bomb

Mood Fabrics Floral Cotton Batiste | V1507

Well hello there everyone! I hope you've all had a great April! Around here we've been truly living up to the old saying "April showers bring May flowers". Well, at least the bit about the showers. The flowers we get all year round. In other words, it's been wet! I can't believe I'm saying this, but... I'm ready for summer. Yes, summer, and all it's triple-digit, 100% humidity, sweaty, stifling, sunburnt, nastiness. Bring. It. On. You northeners can keep your spring (and your bad tacos, but that's a rant for another day)! I'm ready for the heat! Maybe it's because winter was such a joke this year, and I have no patience for this in-between bullshit, but I'm really looking forward to the days when I can throw on a dress and sandals, put my hair up, and sweat. We're almost there. almost. We just need the sun to decide to make an appearance...

Mood Fabrics Floral Cotton Batiste | V1507 Mood Fabrics Floral Cotton Batiste | V1507

And on that note, let me introduce you to this backless beauty! This was my April make for the Mood Sewing Network, and, again, you've probably seen some sneaky peeks on my Instagram all month as I slowly chipped away at it.  I feel a bit weird calling this thing a "shirt" or even a "top" as its open-back, voluminous, apron-style design makes it feel as if I'm wearing nothing at all.  But it does cover the essentials, and after wearing it to work for a whole day I can attest to the fact that those essentials (somehow) stayed covered. Phew. I'll be honest, I wasn't sure if that would be the case. This also isn't the most bra-friendly design, so if the goods did come out, they would be alllll out! But thankfully (for both myself and my unsuspecting coworkers) we good.

Mood Fabrics Floral Cotton Batiste | V1507

Okay, so what is this, you ask? (What? You didn't come to hear the gripping tale of how I did or did not flash the entirety of Galveston Island?) This is Vogue Patterns #1507 made up in some Italian Printed Floral Cotton Batiste from Mood Fabrics online.  I was super super excited to see that Rachel Comey had released a few more patterns for Vogue this season.  Her designs always delight and excite me, and I feel like the resulting garments are truly one-of-a-kind pieces.  This top was my favorite out of the recent bunch (although I also love this dress) so it was the first one I wanted to sink my teeth into.  While I think the plain green version on the pattern envelope is great for seeing this top's interesting style lines and features, in my head I always imagined it in a bright, exuberant print.

Mood Fabrics Floral Cotton Batiste | V1507

This cotton batiste was everything I could have hoped for this make: a large scale, painterly floral print, easy to handle during construction, and light and airy to wear.  The whole top is double layered, so despite the fact this fabric was somewhat sheer, I didn't worry about a lining.  I really love how the print of the underlayer actually peeks through the sheer areas of the top layer. I didn't bother with print matching, or even give much thought to print placement with this make (I may have been print placement-ed out from my last make!) I really love the resulting sporadic feel of the top.  

Mood Fabrics Floral Cotton Batiste | V1507 Mood Fabrics Floral Cotton Batiste | V1507

I took a few indoor shots on my dress form because the gusty winds during my photoshoot were doing this top (and my hair) no favors! Hopefully these help give you a better idea of the lovely intricacies of this design.  I have to say, it was truly a pleasure to work with a pattern where the actual pattern pieces were practically unrecognizable and how it was all going to come together seemed like a mystery.  Often times when I see a garment I have a pretty good visual idea of what the flat pattern pieces will look like, but this one was completely wacky! Definitely a good project for pulling me out of my sewing autopilot! 

Mood Fabrics Floral Cotton Batiste | V1507

That being said, the actual construction really wasn't all that difficult once you figured out what went where.  The trickiest part was that just about every major part of the garment - both the top and bottom layers of the bodice and the sleeves - called for a teeny, tiny 1/8" hem.  And those hems were verrrryyyy loooonnnnng and veerrryyyy cuuurrrrrvyyy. This probably would have been no big deal if I had a rolled hem foot for my machine, but I don't.  I also contemplated doing it all by hand, but I wanted to finish it before June so I followed the instructions.  First I sewed a line of stitching at 1/2" then I used that stitching line as a guide and folded the hem up once, trimmed close to the line of stitching, and folded again at 1/8", edgestitching that in place.  By the time I got to the sleeves I was pretty pro. Or at least there was much less cussing.

The back neckline is finished with a small bias facing and the back yoke edges are bound in bias binding. The instructions had you finish the armholes with bias binding as well but I had run out of red bias tape and actually thought that might be a bit bulky, so I used my serger instead. No regrets.

Mood Fabrics Floral Cotton Batiste | V1507

And here's a closeup of those cursed teeny hems. Honestly this was at least 70% of the sewing! Choosing a thread color for this project was a bit of a head scratcher, because no matter what I went with it was going to be in contrast with the print at some point.  I decided on off-white, however I'm sure an invisible hand-rolled hem would have been the more elegant option.  But I don't think the visible stitching detracts from the finished top at all.

I'm quite happy I chose such a well behaved fabric as cotton batiste for this top, because while it wasn't a difficult sew, a lot of the pattern pieces fall on the bias, and I could see that, coupled with the teeny hems being a real headache in a trickier fabric!

Mood Fabrics Floral Cotton Batiste | V1507

Fit wise I'm fairly pleased with how this turned out.  There was, frustratingly, no finished garment measurements printed anywhere on this pattern so I had no idea how much ease was built in.  I decided to play it safe and go down only one size since I find, in general, Big 4 patterns tend to go crazy on the ease, with the occasional exception of these Vogue designer patterns, which sometimes actually have spot on measurements. I figured if I went down one size I could counteract any built in ease, but that the top was also voluminous enough that if there wasn't a whole lot of ease built in it would probably still fit me anyway.

In retrospect I think anyone making this top could probably safely go down two sizes.  I find the shoulders to be quite wide, even on me and I have good, wide, linebacker shoulders.  From an engineering standpoint the shoulders are really the only thing holding this top on the body, so if you've got narrow shoulders you might find yourself with a garment that simply doesn't stay on.  I would also suggest reinforcing the front neckline with some staystitching or even some light interfacing or organza to help prevent it from stretching out during construction. The instructions don't call for this, but that's my two cents for anyone thinking of making this up in the future.

Mood Fabrics Floral Cotton Batiste | V1507

As I mentioned, I wore this top to work yesterday and felt like a total superstar! It felt so unique and special, and as I was getting ready at the gym in the morning (yes, I shower at the gym most days - glamorous, I know) women kept sending their friends in to see my outfit.  Not that I base the success of a make on how many compliments I get on it, but it's always really nice when other people like your work as much as you do.  

I'd really like to make a pair of black linen tap shorts to pair with this little topper for the ultimate breezy ensemble once the dog days of summer really hit. Nothing like pairing a little volume on the top with some long legs on the bottom! 

Obviously my wardrobe planning is all about summer.  What about you guys? Anyone else ready for a heat wave?

xx

4.06.2016

cat lady

Mood Fabrics Anna Sui Cat Print Panel | McCalls6696

Hellooooo friends!!  Please excuse my frizzy hair and general unkempt-ness in these photos.  The week I took these photos the weather was truly the worst - mild, but sticky, overcast, and permanently threatening rain, but never delivering – like living inside a cloud. Good for the plants, but not so great for looking polished and put-together! Of course since then the sun has decided to come back out and I feel like all is right with the world again! I don't know how you northeners do it, my tolerance for lack of sunshine has definitely gotten worse since living in Texas! A few weeks of cloudy weather and I'm alternately whining and throwing a tantrum, shaking my fists at the sky, or else despondent and unable to move, because what's the point of moving if you can't see your own shadow?

Mood Fabrics Anna Sui Cat Print Panel | McCalls6696

I was actually half tempted to re-shoot these photos in this glorious, sparkly sunshine, but then I figured I'd probably never get this post up and you'd all think I had abandoned this space, and no one wants that! So you'll have to deal with Soggy Sallie. And anyway, frizzy hair and melting makeup can’t put a damper on my enthusiasm for this new dress! Those of you that follow me on Instagram have probably seen sneak peeks of this buddy coming slowly together this past month. March is my birthday month and I always like to work on something a little extra special as a bit of a gift to myself. So this month for the Mood Sewing Network I put together this little puzzle of a dress in Mood Fabric’s Famous Designer Yellow/Green Kitty Cat Border Printed Bamboo Twill Panel. That’s right, there are fat little kitty cats marching all over this dress!

Mood Fabrics Anna Sui Cat Print Panel | McCalls6696

This fabric was pretty much too cute for me to resist (there’s even a purple colorway that I’m thinking of snatching up so I can make an identical twin dress!) But I have to confess that when it arrived I really had to give it some thought as to what I could turn this fabric into.  I don’t really have any experience working with border prints, so that alone was a bit of a headscratcher. However this print is also a panel print, with the printed areas being fairly narrow rectangles.  It’s not a whole lot of real-estate, print-wise, to work with, so I knew whatever I decided to make would have to have lots of pieces.
Sometimes when I’m feeling really stumped about one of these designer prints I like to try to hunt down the fabric online and see how the designer originally intended to use it.  Luckily for me, I knew the designer – Anna Sui – because the name is printed all along the selvedge. Some quick googling gave me a few clues, most notably this:



this...


and perhaps most intriguing to me...


It was the last image which gave me the idea for a shirtdress.  I had bought 4 yards of this fabric, so I had a decent amount to play around with, which was good, because I certainly made some mistakes along the way! This was one of those projects where cutting took almost twice as long as sewing! Not only did I have to consider print placement, and how best to utilize all the parts of the print – the small, closely spaced cats, the larger border cats, and the solid stripes of color – but I also had to attempt to print match as best as I could, which was no easy feat! See, these kitties like to change direction throughout the print, making something as simple as cutting out a left and right bodice front a brain tease! And, just to really up the ante, the bamboo twill is deliciously lightweight, and devilishly shifty, not to mention it wrinkles up if you simply look at it! So it’s no exaggeration when I say that I spent three separate weekends simply cutting and puzzle-piecing this dress together!
Mood Fabrics Anna Sui Cat Print Panel | McCalls6696
For the pattern I used McCall’s 6696 – a most beloved pattern among the sewing community.  I’ve had this in my stash for awhile and was glad to have a reason to finally pull it out and give it a go.  I ended up cutting my size based on the finished garment measurements rather than the size chart, because as we all know, Big 4 patterns loooove their excess ease! So I cut a 10 (with a B cup) at the shoulders and bust, tapering to an 8 at the waist, and a 12 at the hips. Having sewn my fair number of shirts, and, for that matter, dresses, I didn’t really follow the instructions, but rather used my own method of construction.  I’m very happy with how the dress fits, however if I do make the dress again I might make a few small adjustments. The biggest thing I would change is how full the back is.  I’ve read this about this pattern before, but thought I’d try sewing it up as is to see the results, and, sure enough, the back is indeed poofy! So I’d probably try to either reduce the gathering at the waist or convert it to darts.

Mood Fabrics Anna Sui Cat Print Panel | McCall's 6696
It was pretty much inevitable that I would need to do some creative piecing somewhere on this dress, and the back of the skirt ended up getting the treatment, but more as the result of a mistake than actual planning and consideration! See the back skirt is supposed to be cut on the fold, but the print panels are much too narrow to allow for that, so I intended to add a center back seam.  Of course once it came time to cut the back I completely forgot to add a seam allowance and decided to make up for it by sewing a strip of plain yellow down the center to make up for the missing width.  The sad thing is, I actually made this mistake twice! I cut one skirt panel, realized I forgot to add a seam allowance, then proceeded to cut another skirt panel, and promptly forgot again to add the seam allowance! *head slap* Such a waste of good fabric! But of course, it all worked out in the end.

Mood Fabrics Anna Sui Cat Print Panel | McCall's 6696
Another change I made was to round the collar, simply because I thought these kitties suited a rounded collar more than a pointed one!

Mood Fabrics Anna Sui Cat Print Panel | McCall's 6696
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Apologies for the bad indoor lighting (my apartment has the worst light for photos!) but I had to get a shot of the innards because I lined the bodice and skirt in ivory silk habotai which is, in my opinion, one of the loveliest fabrics to wear next to the skin. It’s truly like having an air conditioner installed inside your dress! Which is important when your climate is akin to a damp dishrag.  This was also necessary for modesty, as the kitty cat print was a bit on the sheer side.

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Because this fabric is so lightweight and shifty I made sure to interface areas that I felt would need a little help in order to hold their shape, like the pocket openings.  This really helps them from stretching out and looking droopy.

Mood Fabrics Anna Sui Cat Print Panel | McCall's 6696

I’m really happy with my new shirtdress! The kitty cats are such a cute surprise when you notice what they are, and I’m really happy with the way I used all areas of this tricky border print panel throughout the dress to enhance the design elements. Do you guys have any tips for working with border prints?

xx

2.19.2016

kaleidescope

Mood Fabrics - Deep Forest Abstract Jersey Wrap Dress

Hellllooooo Nurse! Ugh. It's the end of the day you guys and my humor has reached Animaniacs level... It happens. Clearly I can't think of a proper introduction for this post so we'll just... You wanna talk about the weather? Let's talk about the weather! When in doubt, right? Winter, man! Sucks. *she says as she basks in the 75F degree sunshine* Please don't throw things at me! Truly this has been an oddly mild winter.  If I let my thoughts stray too apocalyptic I'd say it was a sign of The End of Times and that we should all head for the bunker, but I'm feeling optimistic today and just enjoying the apocalyptic pleasant weather with a smile. I'll tell you what, though, all this warm weather has put a real damper on my winter sewing plans.  Oh! The things I had planned! Somehow it just seems strange to sew a quilted Tamarack jacket or a faux leather biker jacket when I feel like I need to start preparing for the impending doom of summer, like, now. Don't even get me started on the chunky wool sweater I've been spending my evenings toiling away on... Ah well. There's always the, like, three cold days of winter to look forward to next year...

Mood Fabrics - Deep Forest Abstract Jersey Wrap Dress

But enough of that! Despite the unseasonably warm temperatures I've still been on a mission to add a few new long sleeve dresses to my wardrobe. Sometimes you just don't want to do the whole dress/cardigan layering jig. Sometimes you just want to put on one piece of clothing and have it be appropriate for the cooler seasons. I don't care what fashion blogs tell me, sometimes layering is for the birds! This dress is for those days. And lots of other days too.

This is my February make for the Mood Sewing Network.  I'm still working through my blah feelings I wrote about in my last post, and so whipping up quick-sew knit garments is still sounding very appealing to me. This time I went for a wrap dress silhouette. If I had to wear one type of garment for the rest of my life it would be a wrap dress. So comfy. So flattering. So sexy-yet-work-appropriate. If you haven't gotten on board with wrap dresses I urge you - I implore you - to give them a try.

Mood Fabrics - Deep Forest Abstract Jersey Wrap Dress

But this is obviously no ordinary wrap dress. Okay, I'll just call out the elephant in the blog post - DAT FABRIC, 'DO! Isn't this a spectacular print?? This is the Deep Forest Abstract Viscose-Cotton Jersey Knit Panel print from Mood's online store, and though I'm usually flummoxed by panel prints I just had to give this one a go! It looks simultaneously organic and futuristic with a heaping helping of Art Nouveau thrown in for good measure. The hand is really interesting too - it has a moderate amount of stretch in both directions and is a good medium weight.  The face of the fabric is actually looped, like the wrong side of terry cloth, and the back is smooth and white. The texture adds some visual interest, but it feels really nice against the skin. I ordered three panels and only had to do a small bit of piecing on the upper back (I created a yoke) to make this dress work.

Mood Fabrics - Deep Forest Abstract Jersey Wrap DressMood Fabrics - Deep Forest Abstract Jersey Wrap Dress

By far the most interesting and challenging aspect of making this dress was in figuring out print placement.  I figured out early on that, given the flared shape of the skirt, matching the side seams on this print was not going to happen. Instead I concerned myself more with placing the pattern motifs so they would be most flattering when the dress was worn.  My original idea was to use the faded out black areas at the waist in order to create a slimming effect, however when I draped the fabric on my dress form I quickly realized that this was not the best idea.

FullSizeRender (1)FullSizeRender (2)

Here's my tip for you guys - when you're trying to decide on print placement drape the fabric over a form, or yourself, in roughly the shape of the garment you're trying to make and then take a picture of it.  I find that looking at a photograph helps give me some distance on the fabric so I can see the bigger picture and not get lost in details like I do when I'm looking in a mirror, or trying to shuffle pattern pieces around on a length of fabric.  Even better, make the photo black and white so you're not distracted by color and can see how the larger shapes are playing out across the figure.  I find this is helpful in avoiding mishaps like the good ol' flower-on-boob mistake we've all made!

Or just in determining the best use of a print, like in my photos above (please excuse my messy sewing room!) The first photo shows my original idea for the print placement, which you can see is still nice, however it really wasn't as flattering as I was hoping for, and the best parts of the print were underutilized.  In the second photo you can see that the swooping lines of the print actually creates the waist-flattering lines I was hoping for, and is a much better showcase for this print. Plus, the first placement may have left me with some unfortunate crotch and butt vortex-ing going on! A lucky save!

Mood Fabrics - Deep Forest Abstract Jersey Wrap DressMood Fabrics - Deep Forest Abstract Jersey Wrap Dress

For the pattern I simply traced an old American Apparel wrap dress I've had for literally ages. I have two of their wrap dresses, and despite the fact that I've trashed a good portion of my AA crap from my undergraduate days, I've always hung on to these wrap dresses.  I'm pretty happy with the way the pattern turned out, however I have a few minor complaints.  There's something slightly off with the shape of the armhole, which never bothered me in the originals (isn't it funny how we can totally overlook wonky fit in RTW garments, but we're so picky about it in our handmades?) and I wish I would have flared the skirt more (because swishy skirts are fun).  I might explore using my CCF Nettie pattern as a base to draft my own in the future. Or just stick with this one. Who knows?! 

Construction was straight-forward - mostly serged seams with finishing done on my sewing machine using my trusty triple-step stretch stitch.  One construction detail I did that I am very happy about was adding a piece of 1/4 inch elastic along the inside of the neck binding to help the neckline hug nice and tight and prevent gaping, and also to keep the neckline from stretching out over time, which is a problem I've had in previous knit wrap dress makes. 
Mood Fabrics - Deep Forest Abstract Jersey Wrap Dress

I've already worn this dress for several work events and am quite smitten with it! The print makes it a real show-stopper, but the wrap-dress and comfy knit fabric allow for me to feel good in it all day.  Nick has let hint that he thinks I "look sexy" in it, which is never a bad thing in my book, either! I'm pretty sure this will be a dress I reach for again and again! 

Well, friends, that about wraps up (yuk yuk) *head slap* this post! Until next time...

xx