A Colorful Charleston Dress


As soon as I saw the Charleston dress pattern I knew I had to make it. It took me some time to decide on which fabric pattern to use, but eventually I went with this gorgeous print called Solstice from Spoonflower in their cotton spandex jersey. The pattern says to cut patterns with the grainline going the direction of greatest stretch but with my particular print this caused some white lines to appear when stretched out so I went with the other direction which stretched better with the pattern of the fabric.

I’ll start my review by stating, this designer writes the most comprehensive and amazing instructions with great photos. Even though at this point I am a seasoned sewist, I learned a few new skills.

I made a few adjustments to the pattern. The biggest one was an FBA (full bust adjustment). My first attempt at trying to make the adjustment off of the Vogue princess seam tutorial I usually use did not work well for this pattern. It made the center panel much too wide. Instead, I used the tutorial recommended by Hey June patterns at Craftsy. It’s called How to Make an FBA on Princess Seams. Per their advice because I was making these adjustments on a knit fabric, instead of my usual 4″ I only did 2″. This was perfect.

Pic of my adjusted pattern pieces.


Once I had made my bodice muslin and was happy with the fit I cut out my pretty fabric. The other adjustment I made was to take out the center back seam allowance on the pattern piece and also cut the back piece on the fold. I would have done this for the back skirt panels but I didn’t have quite enough fabric to make it work, still looks good, ;).

My front pockets did get stretched out a little bit in sewing them together but overall I am so happy with how this dress turned out! Love the fabric and the shape and the pockets! Pockets are always amazing.

I took my time on this project so from cut to finish it took me about 2 days (maybe 10 hours) but in doing another it would go much quicker. Part of the slowness was sewing each seam and then serging instead of just serging them to the first time. Part of this was for fitting reasons but also per pattern instructional recommendation.

And the other fun feature: fun colored serged seams! I know no one will see them but I like that the seam thread colors match the exterior dress colors, :). I love the construction and fit of this dress so much. I definitely see more in my future!

My seam thread colors match the dress, :).

Pockets!

The back turned out great, :). Sometimes I get weird fabric excess around the neckline but not this time!

The shape of this dress is perfect, :).


Side view.

Close up of all the seam lines for the front bodice and pockets.

Anna Dress Take 2

I haven’t been blogging very much since I started teaching and taking graduate courses at the same time, but with graduate classes done for the semester and the school year winding down I finally have some free time again!

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I made the Anna dress from By Hand London last year and loved it, but I was never 100% happy with the fit of the bodice. Now that I have lost some weight (about 15 pounds!) I decided to tackle this pattern again. Of course I didn’t read my previous post and started with the By Hand London FBA tutorial and quickly realized why this didn’t work for me the first time I had tried it. I can see how this particular version would be great for people who only need to make 1-2″ of adjustment but I needed a 3″ adjustment. So I went back and followed the FBA tutorial by Another Little Crafty Creation with a few differences this time. First, I started with tracing out the size 10 bodice pieces. Previously I had added 1″ of length to my Anna dress bodice but went with only 1/2″ this time, and instead of adding a 3rd pleat per the tutorial, I added the extra width to the current 2 pleats and rotated the dart out, but just cut off the extra length at the waist seam. This worked out wonderfully for me. You can also see in be below pick a slashed line from the middle, the front had ended up a little long and this fixed it perfectly.


As you can see, the bodice is nearly a perfect fit! I don’t believe anything will ever be “perfect”, but I am happy with the current adjustments and feel the only other change I need to make is to cut out a little more from the front waist (maybe 1/2″) and change the lines of the skirt portion pieces to match up with the new seam line.


The fabric I used was this gorgeous polyester stretch chiffon available here. I saw it and instantly knew I needed to make a dress out of this gorgeous fabric. I was considering the Chantilly pattern from Colette but then when I was looking through my stash I came across from Anna dress pattern and thought, this would make a perfect midi-length version. And it did!

The other changes I made were to cut off about 1″ from each side of the back center grading out to cutting off 1/2″ near the waist to get rid of the gaping I had in my first version. I also took out 1/4″ from the shoulder seam as they were slightly too wide for me. So basically, a lot of changes! Haha, ;). But they were all worth it! Below is a pic of the back bodice pattern piece.


I totally see a v-neck version in the future… I didn’t make any changes to the skirt pieces, these were a straight size 10. I am also not a fan of facings, so I cut off about 1/2″ from the seam allowance around the neckline and made 1/2″ wise single-fold bias tape from the dress fabric to finish off the neckline. I used Colette’s tutorial to make the bias tape and Lladybird’s tutorial to finish off the neckline using bias tape instead of facings. I hand stitched it down in place so as to not have any stitching lines on the bodice.

Instead of making French seams, I just used my serger this time. Definitely easier and faster!

And of course some pics of me wearing my new dress to the symphony last night, :).

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Dahlia in Polka Dots

This is my 3rd make of the Colette Patterns Dahlia dress, love this pattern, :). I used version 1 again, my my other make is posted here. This time I chose not to line it and used a pretty navy blue with white polka dot polyester silky fabric from Jo-Ann’s. I also added pockets! Used the in seam pocket piece and instructions from Gertie’s Ultimate Dress Book.

I used the size 10 pattern pieces with a  3″ FBA, more details on my original post with link above. Other than adding the pockets, nothing new to add. You can read about using Gertie’s pocket pattern and instructions more when I added them to my Wren dress here. I made my own bias tape again which was a little trickier with this fabric but I still managed to make it work, :). I wanted to use my bias tape maker but it was not designed to work with this particular type of fabric. So I just sewed it on using a 1/4″ seam allowance and folded it over the seam. A little trickier but not too time consuming.

The other major change I made was to add pockets! Every dress possible should have pockets, :). I kind of forgot about the side invisible zipper though… It turned out fine though, even if is a bit more difficult to get over my chest, I manage just fine. I had to cut off about 3 inches of the invisible zipper. But, the pockets work and are functional!

And of course, the photos, :).

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Seamwork Ida Dress with Optional Cut-Out


As I mention every time I post a pic and review of a Seamwork Magazine pattern, I subscribe to their monthly magazine/patterns. I just can’t sing their praises enough and think everyone should take a look. Basically, for $6 per month, you get 2 credits to use towards any of their Seamwork patterns (1 credit = 1 pattern), or, they started allowing you to use the accumulated credits to use towards Colette patterns! With Colette’s patterns, you can use 3 Seamwork credits to purchase a PDF version of any of Colette’s patterns. The magazine articles are available to peruse for free, the $6 gets you 2 of their awesome patterns. I can never state enough how amazing I think this is. They come out with 2 new patters with every issue, but you can use the credits for ANY of their patterns. If you use my code, we both win, :). I get a free month and you get half off of your first month with the option to cancel at any time and still keep all of your patterns, not that I am canceling anytime soon, ;). Just click here! The 2 patterns this month are a basic t-shirt and pencil skirt. Last month was the Ida and Willie.

And now they offer so many awesome additions like a visual fit guide so you can better visualize which changes or adjustments you may need to make.

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This review is over the Ida using the bonus pattern pieces for the back cut out. LOVE it!!! This dress came together super quick. The only changes I made were to skip adding the side slit, grading from a medium to a large at the hip line, and  I added a 1.5″ full bust adjustment using Jennifer Lauren’s tutorial.

I had no problem getting all of these pieces cut out of my 2 yards of 60″ wide scuba knit from Jo-Ann’s. This Nicole Miller fabric was just too perfect to pass up.

Other than the two adjustments mentioned (FBA, sizing, and no side slit), I made zero other changes, I didn’t even nip or tuck anything when I put the dress together. This is why I love Seamwork patterns so much, they are fairly quick and easy to put together and still look really great. I get so many compliments on all of my Seamwork pattern projects. With my new super busy schedule, it’s nice being able to still make a few things throughout the month.

And the photos of course! It was super freezing cold today, 18 degrees!!! But I got my kind boyfriend to quickly take a couple out on our deck to I could finally write this post up, :). The things I do for fashion, ;).


Wren again

As you have probably noticed, the Wren pattern by Colette Patterns is probably one of my favorites, ;). I love that if given a full day I can start from cut to finish and complete this dress within a day or in the case of this one, 1.5 afternoons. And it’s so versatile!

This was my third Wren, second doing the version 2. This time I took off the 3″ of length I had added to the skirt but otherwise made it with all the other changes I had made to the pattern detailed here. I cut the back skirt portion on the fold like the front skirt. One less seam to stitch, ;).

The fabric is a gorgeous floral from Girl Charlee. I saw it and it was instant love and knew it would make a perfect floral wren #2, ;). And it did! I also like the just above the knee length. Super cute! And as with my other two, I pick stitched the faux wrap front sections together to prevent an accidental peep show.

Almost forgot, I made one other change, I did the pockets a little differently following the tutorial from Gertie in her book Gertie’s Ultimate Dress Book. Basically I used the pocket piece from this book but you can use any side seam pocket piece from any pattern. I placed mine about 1 3/4″ from the waist seam.
1st I stitched the pocket pieces right sides together to the skirt front and back at each side. I used a zig zag stitch and stitched just within the 3/8″ seam allowance. Then I pressed the pocket out (#2). After which I pinned the front skirt side to the back skirt side and around each pocket as shown in #3 before stitching them together using the full 3/8″ seam allowance (#4). After this you can leave as is or serge the seams. I discovered cutting into the corner of the top and bottom of each pocket made serving a bit better. Then you turn everything right side out, push the pocket in, and give everything a good press.


And there you have it, a pretty Wren with pockets!


Definitely the new fave!


Anna dress from By Hand London


The Anna dress from By Hand London. I’ve seen this dress floating around Instagram and on people’s blogs and just loved the look of it and the fact it was “easy”. I mean, when you look at the FBA explained through their sew along it did appear to be very simple. Well, things are never that simple for me. I used a size 10 top which needed at minimum for me, a 4″ full bust adjustment. Well, when using the FBA explained through By Hand London this didn’t give me the length needed, the top of the pleats were placed halfway up my bust instead of below, and added bust darts which I couldn’t get angled correctly. So I Googled and found this amazing tutorial by Another little Crafty Creation. This version was more like my usual method, took away the bust dart, and added the length I needed in the front bodice without adding it to the sides. Yay! After adding my 4″ using this method, I then lowered the top of the dart pleats down an inch, added 1 more pleat but ended up adding a fourth as I still had extra each in the bodice when attaching to the skirt, and an inch of length which I added to the back too. I ended up adding 2″.


After a few tries and hours, I had my front bodice drafted and fit and thought I needed to add length to the back. I did, but not the 2″ I ended up adding, an additional inch would have been perfect. So I had to take out my zipper and undo my seams to take out the extra inch but it was worth the time and effort.

Other than fitting issues, the construction of the pattern was fairly easy and straight-forward. I chose to do French seams as the fabric I chose was a rayon challis. Beautiful flow but unravels like crazy. And of course I wanted to add pockets. Looking back I should have added slant pockets as explained how here, but I decided to add side-seam pockets for which I created a tutorial here on the extra steps needed to make them French seamed. I used a pattern piece from Gertie’s Ultimate Dress Book and the notch lines as well. Basically they sit about 2″ below the waist.


Overall the project took much longer than I had anticipated but it looks gorgeous. I hand stitched the thigh high split seams and machine stitched the hem at a 1″ allowance. I folded the hem up 1/2″ and then another 1/2″ to enclose the seam. Before cutting out the pieces I had chopped 3″ off the length of the skirt pieces but ended up cutting another 2″ off. I prefer to wear flats most of the time and didn’t want the beautiful fabric which I purchased from fabric.com to be dragging on the ground. For the record, I am 5’7″. This dress is made for very tall people! Or very tall heels…


I had the intention of fully lining the dress but it turned out the fabric was opaque enough I didn’t need to. So I self-biased the neck line instead of using the facings using the method from So Sew Easy. I got to use my new bias tape maker, :).


Just to recap: I added a 4″ FBA, 1″ of length to the front and back bodice pieces, cut off about 5″ of length off the skirt portions, added side seam pockets, and self-bias tapes the neckline. I used a size US 10 for the bodice grading out to a size US 12 for the skirt.

And voila, a pretty dress I plan to wear to a wedding this weekend, :).




African Wax Print and Gertie’s Ultimate Dress Book

Ever since I saw that Gertie had another book coming out I knew I had to look it over and it is still currently in my Amazon queue for a future purchase someday… In the mean time I was able to find a copy of Gertie’s Ultimate Dress Book at my local library, yay!

I must say, the instructions and information are amazing, as are all of the pattern pieces and combos available. I decided to go with the sweetheart neckline strapless bodice pieces, three-quarter circle skirt, and pocket pieces. Because, well, every dress possible should have pockets! For the fabric I ordered this gorgeous Ankara African wax fabric from Tambo Collection on Etsy. They shipped it to me very quickly and it looked exactly like the photos, :).

I saw Gertie’s green faille dress in the book and loved it but didn’t have enough fabric for the box pleats and as I decided to alternate the bodice pieces with teal I thought it looked better without the decorative bias tape across the front.

For the sizing I traced out and sewed up a straight size 10 other than making a full bust adjustment of 3″ to the bodice front. Always make a muslin! This one took me 2 tries but it looks great and I felt much more sure putting together 2 layers without worrying about fitting as I went. I did my usual full bust adjustment on a princess seam. So basically I cut a slash in the side front piece going from just under the front middle notch to the double middle side notch (you can see this in the photo in the bottom right corner). I spread this a total of 1.5″ and then I cut a horizontal line on the middle piece at the same notch point and spread that piece straight up 1.5″ keeping the front middle section straight as it is cut on the fold.

dress mock up

The I used the same muslin pieces I’d used for my trial to underline the front pattern pieces which I cut out of alternating patterned and solid teal fabric. For the top I did have to take in the top middle seams in a tad to make the top curve over my chest properly. Gertie has you stitch a row of gathering stitches which I might try next time. Then for the inside structure of the bodice I followed her inserting boning instructions to apply a total of 9 strips of rigilene boning to all of the top seams and a small bit in the middle front. Next time I will put some casing around the rigilene. Even though I melted the edges they still dig in to my skin a bit. All in all it looks quite lovely, :).

inside boning

Then I put the zipper in the bodice to try on the fit again before attaching the bodice to the skirt. At this stage I decided an invisible zipper would look nicer than a lapped zipper, for which Gertie goes over in great detail on inserting either option with and without lining. Then it was time to work on the skirt! I used her handy tutorial on inserting the pockets which was easy peasy before attaching the skirt to the exterior bodice pieces. Love it when everything is notched and matches up so nicely, :). I opted to not put in the 1/8″ edge stitching on the pockets since the fabric is so sturdy, I just pressed them really well with my iron. After I had attached the bodice I put in the zipper and then hand slip-stitched the lining in place.

Look at that pretty inside! And those things sticking out are the pockets.

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And ta-da! I now have another gorgeous summer dress that fits like a charm, :). Love how the contrasting panels just add to the beauty of the dress and pattern.

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Pockets!

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Side view

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Back view

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And of course I needed a spinning shot, or 2… 😉

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