Orsola in Silk

As soon as I saw the Orsola dress pattern, I knew I had to jump on board and make my own. Rather than start simple, I went straight on as complicated as I could make it: silk charmeuse.

So, it took me about 6 tries before I decided the By Hand London method of doing an FBA on the Orsola bodice wasn’t working for me. Maybe it was the pattern, maybe it was the method. Any who, I decided to use the Basic Bodice from Gertie’s Ultimate Dress Book. This took about 4 attempts before finally gaining a good fit. Hooray! It ended up being so simple: traced the size 8 neckline and armscye, then graded to a size 10 for the darts and waistline before lowering the side bust dart 1″ and moving the bottom busy dart towards the center 1/2″ to match my apex point. The Curvy Collective has the best tutorial. The final change I ad pinched 1/2″ out of the armscye using this tutorial from Craftsy.

Here is my Frankenpattern, ;).

After perfecting my bodice fit, I then adjusted the neckline and armscye to match the Orsola bodice front and used the Orsola back pieces with no adjustments. After putting them together in silk, I would pinch out about an inch of fabric from the tops of the side backs. As I had already cut and stitched the silk together, I basically just gathered the top edges of the back pieces so they wouldn’t flop open while wearing it.

Now the actual construction… I understand why everyone comments on the darts. Between the front, back, inside, and outside pieces, so many! Also, I decided to use a silk charmeuse…so about as slippery and lightweight as you can use. I made this a little easier by marking lots of points along each dart to reduce error to fabric slipperiness. Of course I hand knot the thread at the top of the dart (pointed end), but I backstitch at the end of the dark (edge of fabric).

After doing all the darts, putting the bodice pieces wasn’t too tricky except my server didn’t quite cut off enough of the seam allowance, so I struggled getting the seams to iron flat. Also, my silk did not want to iron, so I under-stitched as much of the bodice as I could. This helped so much! Plus lots and lots of ironing, then pressing the pieces with my wooden ruler until the fabric had cooled.

Here are a couple images of my bodice progress. Love having a made to my measurements dress form, :). (It’s from Bootstrap Fashion).

Next part: the skirt pieces. This part was so much easier than the bodice. Still some darts, but not as many, and only single layers as the skirt isn’t lined. I french seamed the skirt sides so that there weren’t any pesky strands unraveling. I loved the look of the tulip hem, so I made that version. Pretty simple. I stitched the facings together, then pinned them to my skirt. I skipped the ironing the seam allowance of the non-skirt attached side as I decided to just serge that off after stitching the facing to the skirt. I made sure to mark the dot of the v of the tulip hem in the front. Then I trimmed the seam allowance down to about 1/4″, ironed it really well to the inside of the skirt. Then I serged the excess 5/8″ seam allowance for the inside and top stitched the facing down.

As for the waistband, I decided to interface the waist parts with lightweight interfacing to add a little extra structure, but not the tie ends because I want to leave those softer for tying. Also, I decided to edge-stitch my color blocked waistband because 1) I didn’t want to hand stitch it, 2) time constraints, and 3) my silk was not ironing very well.

Pinning took awhile, but worth it!

I love this dress! I like the line’s of the bodice (next time I’ll use something easier like rayon or polyester) and the skirt. I love By Hand London’s circle skirt hack though, so I see a possibility of one of those versions…

Photos:

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TLC Caftan “Swan Around Like a Goddess”

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The other make I managed to finish up pre-cruise was the TLC Caftan by Decades of Style. Perfect! It has a great amount of cover, easy to pull on and off (elastic ties), and has some shaping for us more hourglass gals, ;).

The instructions are overall well-written. I had a little difficulty when I came to sewing the waist insets, but overall it went along well. Along with the instructions, Decades of Style also wrote up a sew-a-long. I decided to machine sew the bias taping due to time constraints. I also did a 3″ FBA according to their tutorial. Perfect! In the image below, you can see the changes I made to the original pattern. I would love to make the maxi version someday, but the short version was perfect for my vacation.

Here is the bodice. I had made a muslin and it was great, but then this fabric ended up needing a second bust dart to take up some excess fabric. You can barely even tell.

I used about 2 3/4 yards of 57″ wide fabric. The pattern recommends 2.5 yards of 60″ wide for sizes 10-12 (I used a size 12), but I am glad I got a little more. The stripes were horizontal if I laid out my fabric pieces as suggested and I wanted verticle stripes. The fabric was perfect, a sheer striped polyester that dries super fast. I wanted a dark, solid color. Then for the contrast, I used white floral lace. Never again will I do the armhole facings in lace. Wow! The lace was very tricky to sew with, but it looks amazing.

The instructions state that you can either use twill tape to make waist ties or elastic. I chose to do elastic and am so glad I did. I figured trying to tie the ties would be a little tricky and I wanted it to be an easy on easy off coverup. The elastic worked perfectly!

The hem was pretty standard, I just did a 1″ hem: rolled up 1/2″ and then another 1/2″. I serged all of my seams after initially stitching them. Normally I wouldn’t need to do both, but this fabric was a little fiddly and required loads of pins.

I feel like a Grecian goddess when I wear it, :). The instructions actually tell you: “Now swan around in caftan like a queen”, ;).

Pics were taken during our beach day on South Beach in Miami, complete with gold sandals, ;). It also pairs perfectly with my Bombshell swimsuit. I may decide to wear this as just a dress over the summer, with a slip underneath of course.

Anna Dress in White

So as per my previous post, I recently went on a cruise. I was going to make a fancy Wiggle Dress (Patterns for Pirates) but then learned there wasn’t going to be a formal night, but instead a white night. So I decided to make another Anna dress from By Hand London in a white rayon voile. Due to the sheerness, I fully lined the dress.

This was a little tricky. I used the same bodice adjustments I’d made the last time (more info here) and just adjusted the long skirt pieces to be the right waist size used from my first version. I’m not sure how, but all the seams are off except for the center front seams with the pleats. I may need to re-trace all the skirt pieces again. Or maybe I mixed up the skirt side front and skirt side back pieces… Either way, that’s why the seams are wonky at the waistline.

I decided to do the thigh high split, but instead of hand-stitching the layers together, I just machine stitched them with the lining and exterior fabrics right sides together, then turned them right side out. Such a nice, clean finish.

I was going to hem the lining and exterior layers separately, but decided to hem the two layers together as I had already connected the two layers at the split and in the back center seam. Turns out this wasn’t the best idea, as now the seams are terrible to iron now. But, I may need to re-hem it anyway. I had let the skirt part hang for a few days to let out any bias, etc., but I guess after hemming it added different weight to the hem because after wearing the dress out for a day, it seemed to have lengthened about half an inch to an inch, :(. As you can see in the images, it was the perfect length.

Other than that issue, I am in love with this version of the Anna dress. It has beautiful drape and swish. Fabric was purchased via Etsy from FabricLA.

Photos were taken in Miami while I was on vacation, :). The Wynwood Walls make for perfect photo opps!

Seamwork Savannah in Silk

Yay! I’ve finally made a camisole that is almost perfect, ;). I’ve had this Seamwork Savannah on my to-make list for awhile. For anyone not currently a subscriber, you can use my referral link for half off your first month (usually $6/month, so only $3 for 2 patterns!). I love Seamwork’s patterns. Overall fairly easy and simple quick projects that look great! I have quite a few on my list but was really excited to finally get this one made ever since I had some leftover silk from previous projects.

My first attempt at making a 3″ dartless FBA failed so I decided to try again using a 4″ FBA and adding bust darts. The 3″ wasn’t enough room but the 4″ fits much better! And the darts help with the shaping. I used this tutorial. The only thing I need to change for the next one is to move the darts up about an inch and start about 1″ further to the side, but could just be partially the bra I was wearing as the fit was much better over another.

I had to take in the sides a little bit (pinched out 3/4″ darts) before finishing up my french seams. Definitely a must on a silk camisole. French seams take a little extra time but result in such a nice finish. I also used my fancy new narrow hem foot to hem the neckline and bottom before sewing everything together. On this version I opted to not use the recommended lace trim.

Then I ran into the fact that the scoop of the back was much too low for my personal tastes, so following a similar design feature on the Aurora tank on the back on my camisole and it worked out really well and I think it looks pretty great. Not sure why my skin tone is so crazy!

Overall, I am pretty happy with how my fancy new silk camisole turned out. So shiny! Love silk charmeuse.

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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