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…



TLC Caftan “Swan Around Like a Goddess”


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.

Closet Case Bombshell

This is probably my favorite photo of my newest swimsuit, looks like it belongs in a perfume ad or something, ;). This was taken while hanging out on deck 10 of my cruise to Nassau and Havana! Cuba was so amazing! As was having the chance to snorkel in the Bahamas, :).

I LOVE this swimsuit!!! This is the Closet Case Patterns Bombshell swimsuit in version B with the ruching in front and back. Their sewalong is super helpful too.

I was having trouble sorting out how to best do an FBA (full bust adjustment) and after emailing Closet Case, I came to the decision to just use the size 20 halter cups instead of a size 12 according to my waist measurements. I used a size 12 waist, grades to a size 14 hips, and size 20 halter cups which I sewed onto a size 12 base (went according to my underbust measurements). The only adjustment I would make in sewing this again is to sew the elastic with a tad more stretch in the cups, otherwise, I sewed it as is and it perfect!

The gorgeous exterior polka dot fabric was purchased from The Fabric Fairy. I also purchased their largest size of foam swim cups in nude and swimwear elastic. I love The Fabric Fairy’s swimwear fabrics! They feel wonderful and look beautiful.

I used my Brother cs6000i for the elastic and basting but used my Brother 1034D serger for all of the seams. I chose not to sew the swimwear cups in, but instead, I just tacked them down so they wouldn’t flip around every time I went to wear my swimsuit and wash it.

And of course, I had to have a photo shoot on the beach while in Miami!

This was my attempt at getting a photo while jumping, none while in the air, but I liked this one.

Just a couple flat shots on the back patio:

My Kitty Factotem

It was quite the battle: skipped stitches, broken needle, great efforts of forearm strength…but in the end, I got her finished, :). I’ve had my eye on the Factotum tote pattern since I saw it make an appearance in the Bag of the Month Club, but I was not a member. So I waited 6 months for it to become available, and then a few more to actually make it.

Love this tote, perfect to store all my teacher and graduate work items.

I will not lie, this tote took me a long time to make. Working on it off and on, I was able to finish it within a few weeks. There are a lot of pieces, so cutting took awhile. And so many pieces to fuse interfacing onto. So satisfying to finish though. Watched a lot of Netflix, ;). I will say that turning the back inside out took a lot of effort, that stabilizer does its job very well.

Here is an image of the exterior bag before I put the lining in. Proof I made it, ;).

The directions were phenomenal! So detailed with written directions and pictures. They were also 56 pages long to give you an idea of the depth of this project. The first 8 pages are just fabric and materials information and the prep work.

Let’s talk materials. I saw the kitty fabric at Jo-Ann’s and just knew I had to use it with my tote. I didn’t want a white tote for cleaning reasons, so I used the kitty fabric as the exterior accent fabric and here-and-there on the inside for pockets, etc. I used quilter’s cotton, all from Jo-Ann’s, for the fabrics. I used Flex Foam from Jo-Ann’s for the stabilizer. I purchased my interfacing from Got Interfacing. It’s 45″ wide!!! For the plastic template, I wasn’t sure what to use and I ended up using plastic school folders, which worked out great. I purchased plastic corrugated board from Home Depot for the bottom. My hardware was purchased from Emmaline Bags except for my snaps, I used sew-on snaps from my stash. Also, I used 3/8″ Chicago Screws instead of rivets, but 1/4″ would have been perfect as the 3/8″ were a little too long. Zippers are all YKK from my local sewing store except for one. As I accidentally purchased the wrong size for one of the pockets, one of them is a white Coats and Clark I luckily had in my stash. I rarely use fusible fleece, so used some sew in from Wal-Matt, which is also where I purchased my Peltax. This project uses an array of materials, it is so well thought out and structured.

Yep, a simple plastic folder like this one:

I get compliments all the time on this wonderful bag. I love all the pockets! Originally I had planned to use it as my carry-on for a flight, it fits within the dimensions, but I fear I would have no foot room. Overall the pattern is well-written and the bag is amazing. I have to convince people that I made it myself, ;).

The recessed top portion:

The insides:

The awesome back with yet another pocket, :).

The cute peek of cat fabric from one of the many pockets.

This zipper stop took me a bit to sort out, but eventually, I glued it on and got the screw to screw in.

The front pocket! It has pen holders, slip pockets, a divider, and another zipper pocket.

The stay straps for the outside pocket. And my logo of course.

And here is a closer image of the snaps holding the front pocket in a bit:

Seamwork Sonya

I made this awhile ago, but I never got around to blogging about it. I’m a monthly Seamwork member and love the patterns. If you use my link, you can get your first month half off: click here. :).

This is the Seamwork Sonya. I made a few adjustments: 2″ FBA, took in the waist a little (mainly due to FBA), and changed the pocket size. I loved the look of the lines going every which way in the photos on the pattern. It took some time and planning, but I got it to work out, :). The fabric is a gorgeous cotton from Fabric.com.

I decided to reduce the size of the pockets. At full size they bagged out a bit too much for me. They looked like saddle bags unfortunately, so I made them both about 1/4 of the original sized.

Overall, I really love how she turned out and I get loads of compliments, :).

I made version 1 in a size 10. The instructions are very detailed every step of the way making this a great project for different levels of seamstresses.

Butterick 6143 Take 2

I won some fabric awhile back, I think for making the first version of this coat actually, ;). I wanted to make the long version of Butterick 6143. The exterior fabric is from Sawyer Brooks Fabrics. The name was Deep Sea which was quite fitting for this gorgeous teal color. The fabric is a wool, silk, and cotton blend with a chenille texture in a tweed pattern.

I used the same top pieces from Take 1, so there were no fitting issues to resolve. Only change was I had to trace out and cut out new pattern pieces for the longer length. Other than the requirement to cut out 4 pieces of nearly everything, the construction was fairly straight forward. I had the exterior fabric and lining, I then also interlined the coat with Thinsulate for additional warmth plus the interfacing for portions of the coat for structure.

I decided to nix the shoulder pads this time. I liked the lace accents on the sleeves but I didn’t have any of the reccommended width of 5″, but I think the 2 5/8″ wide lace I used looks perfect. I then also added a lace accent around the waist. This made making the button hole there a little tricky but not too bad.

More notes on my Sewing Pattern Review.

I LOVE the floral lining and lace accents, gives my fancy new coat such a vintage vibe, :).

Floral Strapless Spinny Dress

I think the title says it all, ;). I saw this gorgeous white roses on blue background cotton fabric at my local fabric store and knew I had to make a dress out of it. Plus 50% off!

The pattern was a mash-up of different patterns. I used the full circle skirt from my Butterick 6019 instead of drafting my own and the rest from Gertie’s Ultimate Dress Book. I used the strapless bodice with sweetheart neckline, side seam pockets, and used the strap piece from her faux sarong dress pattern to make 2. After tacking them on they ended up falling off my shoulders but I liked the look.

I used my size 8 strapless bodice pieces with a 3″ FBA (full bust adjustment). Then spiral steel boning along the seam lines with an additional diagonal piece as recommended by Gertie. Placed 9 pieces in all. Love my spiral steel boning cutters! I also added a waist stay to make zipping up the back easier.

Here is a photo of the insides, you can see the outlines of several pieces of spiral steel boning.

Here is a pic I took before attaching the lining so you can see all my steel boning placement lines. I’ve used plastic, rigilene, and spiral steel. I can’t go back to the others after using spiral steel. So much more comfortable!

Then instead of the lapped zipper I put in my preferred invisible zipper but soon regretted this change. So hard to zip up the bodice! It gets a little stuck over the waist seams for which the waist stay definitely helps. It also struggles zipping up the back (pliers were very helpful!). I thought the hook and eye would be more helpful with this step than it is. Lesson learned. Invisible zipper worked fine with silk, not as great with multiple layers of cotton. Looks really nice though.

It’s a little tight but fits me perfectly. It looks fabulous! Last step was the hemming. Took several hours but looks great. I ironed the hem up 1/4″ and then another 1/2″ for just over the recommended 5/8″ and I had lengthened the skirt down another 2″. I didn’t use anything extra in the hem but may need to add pennies later. Definitely some Marylyn Monroe moments when it’s windy!

And had to test the spin/swirl factor. It passed, ;).

Then wore it out right away for a local event because one must always wear a new make right away.

This is why I create and make my own dresses: fits like a glove, :).