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.

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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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.

inside of dress

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.

ankara dress front view

Pockets!

anakra dress using the pockets

Side view

ankara dress side view

Back view

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

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Simplicity 2172 Steampunk Dress: The Bustier


Ever since I laid eyes on this pattern I knew I had to make it. When I learned of this Time Traveller’s Ball coming up in Nashville I decided this was the perfect opportunity. So finally found Simplicity 2172 in my sizing (size 14) and decided to start with the bustier thinking it would be pretty “easy”. Construction steps were fairly easy but definitely not quick!

I am more of a 34G than a 34B so I went with the 14 for the bustier and my usual full bust adjustment changes using this great tutorial on FBAs on princess seams by Vogue. I only used the front and middle center pieces for the FBA and left the side front panels as is other than the additional 1/2″ I added to the waist length throughout the entire corset. After careful measurements I also decided this was a good size because it would allow me the 0″ ease recommend for corsets with a zipper rather than adjustable lacing in the back. The pattern allows for 2″ of ease, so heads up on if you want this to be more of a corset or more of a fitted top. Because the finished measurements are 38″ for the size 14 chest and mine is about 41″, only needed to do a 3″ FBA (full bust adjustment).

So I made a muslin first of course and it was nearly a perfect fit, so a few adjustments later I was ready to begin! The only other change I made other than the 3″ FBA (full bust adjustment), was to add 1/2″ of length to the torso.


The pattern calls for light weight interfacing and plastic feather lite boning but I wanted mine to be sturdier so I used Pellon 101 shape flex and spiral steel boning. I ordered a roll of about 10 yards and definitely need to invest in better cutters! But I managed with what I had and got my 9 pieces cup and capped. For my channeling I used some twill tape I had in my stash and lined the corset with Bemberg. I used 5/8″ seams for everything but the top connection of the lining to the exterior fabric. For this I used a 1/2″ seam for additional height and coverage.

Had to snap a pic of the inside guts! Look how pretty those channels are, :).

Cutting the steel boning with jewelry clippers was not easy but I managed. Definitely will be investing in better wire cutters! Putting the end caps on took some trial and error but I figured it out. Looks so great!

Then I sewed some 3/8″ Pearl like plastic buttons to the front spaced 1″ apart. I ended up using 13.

For the lining I used Bemberg but ran out of blue, hence the 2 bits of black. I kind of like it.

And voila. A beautiful corset that will look fantastic with my costume but great with a pair of pants too, :). The pants are my Clovers. The sides at the top ended up being a tad big but nothing major. If I make another one I will shave off another 1/4″ off each side seam towards the top bust portion. Fits great with my strapless bra.

I’ll be adding a hook and and eye to the top. For some reason when I looked in my stash all I have is 4 hooks and no eyes. Not sure how that happened as they are sold in pairs, haha.

Back view

Side view.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

And another front shot. I love this fabric and think the fit turned out fantastic, :).

Just finishing up the matching vest for my boyfriend, just needs buttons. Then onto the skirt!

Wren in Green

And of course I couldn’t resist making Version 1 of the Wren dress as well, :). I’ve had some green knit fabric gifted to me for awhile now and decided this was the perfect project.

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I wrote more details on my adventures in making an FBA (full bust adjustment) for the top portion of the dress here as well as adding 1/2″ of length to the top portion. Otherwise I made no other adjustments to the skirt. I cut out a straight side medium and used the 3/8″ seam allowances and 1.5″ hem. I probably could have gone up to a large for this version since my fabric choice had less stretch than the floral of my previous Wren but I think it turned out pretty good. I had this dress together within 1 afternoon, :).

Love this pattern! But then again, I pretty much love every Colette pattern I’ve made so far, :).

 

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Wren in Floral

As soon as I saw the new Wren dress pattern by Colette Patterns I knew I had to have it. Love the look and lines of both versions and lucky me, I had enough fabric to make both in my stash! I decided to make the Version 2 first with the flared skirt and love it.

After reading a few reviews I made a few changes. First I lengthened the bodice by 1/2″ in the front and back and added a 3″ FBA to the front as well. This was a little tricky and took me about an hour and 10 trials but finally figured it out. I used the tutorial by Jennifer Lauren. She wrote up a great step by step tutorial on adding an FBA to a knit garment without adding in bust darts. It still pulls slightly but overall it fits really well. As a result I ended up adding about 1 3/4″ of length to the neckband facing portion. Then for the skirt since I wanted it longer for work I added 3″ of length. That was easy enough to do just but cutting along the slash lines and adding some extra paper.

So for Version 2 I wanted something flowy and had the perfect floral knit in my stash from a Jo-Ann’s purchase many years ago.

floral

The overall construction was pretty easy until I got the to the sleeves. I wasn’t paying attention and didn’t realize I had started following Version 1 instructions for the top pieces, oops! So the sleeves were sewn on after I had already stitched up the side seams. Just made it a little trickier. Then I tried to make attaching the skirt much harder than it was. I found some clear elastic but it wasn’t the best quality so I ended up just using some 1/4″ knit elastic I had in my stash and it worked out great. I used my twin needle on my regular Brother cs6000i for the hem of the neckband facing, sleeves, and skirt and serged all of the other seams with my Brother 1034D serger. I had this dress together pretty quickly, within a few hours, :).

The other major change I made was to add pockets. I think I added them a little too low (placed them 3″ below the waistline). I used a pocket pattern piece from another pattern and cut out 4 pieces from the same dress fabric. They aren’t perfect pockets by any means but they are functional, :). I also pick stitched the faux wrap closure shut in a few places for security sake, ;).

Pocket in wren

And voila, a beautiful Wren in version 2, :).

Dress front 1

Back View

dress back view

Side view

dress side view