Monday Outfit! The Spring Thea Dress

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K must be reading this blog, because after I posted about the dearth of kid-sewing around here, she began to pepper me with requests for handmade clothes.

As luck would have it, Mel commented on that post and introduced me to Blaverry (I’m salivating over Mel’s denim Decklyn jacket, by the way). K and I browsed through the site and she chose the Thea Dress. “Make it tight, Mama,” she instructed. She’s really into tight clothes.

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I branched out and used a floral print knit. Isn’t it pretty? This here is an Art Gallery knit designed by my friend Frances Newcombe and it goes by the name Tree Fleur Blanc. I think I bought it some time last year? The minimal, modern dress pattern with the feminine, vintage-y print, it’s a winning combo. If this doesn’t say, Spring is here, I don’t know what does.

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Well, it’s not quite as form-fitting as K would normally like, even though I went down to a size 6 based on the finished measurements, but the fashionista’s declared the dress spectacular. “It looks extra good with blue tights, right?” she asked.

I added 2 inches to the skirt hem, and I’m glad I remembered to do that or else this would have been a tunic.

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I like the binding method of the neckline and how clean it looks. This is a thin, 95% cotton + 5% Spandex blend that’s so easy to sew — hardly curls, presses beautifully, drapes like a champ.

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The key to the Thea dress, which is easy to construct, is in the pleats. I’m trying to remember if I’ve ever pleated a knit fabric before and I don’t think I have. It upgrades the style factor and K enjoys how swingy the skirt is.

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Yep. We’re in love.

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K loves this style so much, I’m going to make a couple more in different colors/prints. Thank you for directing me to Blaverry, Mel! I ordered a few more patterns and I can’t wait to try them out!

McCall’s 7251 in Black + White Knit

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As I tossed on my new top, set up the tripod to take these photos and wrestled my out-of-control hair into a braid, I had a major realization: I am at ease in my body. I don’t say this lightly because…well, until now I’ve NEVER been at ease in my body.

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I won’t belabor the point, but when I finally got over all the excuses I built up and sewed my first pair of Ginger Jeans earlier this year (I’m wearing them in these pix — they’re my favorite pair of jeans ever), something shifted. I’m even going to say it was seismic in scale. It’s not like I’ve lost weight or have become super fit, though I do exercise regularly and that’s part of it. Sewing is another part of it, for sure. I’m convinced that the jeans-making was a significant turning point, but this burgeoning ease has been going on for a while in a nearly imperceptible way. I have many thoughts on this but I haven’t yet consolidated them into anything coherent, so I’ll have to mull over this a bit. Or not. It’s nice to feel comfy in my bod (and sort of weird since it’s not a familiar feeling) and maybe I don’t have to analyze it to death like I do with everything.

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Today, though, I’m featuring a knit top I made using McCall’s 7251, view A in a size 12.

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It’s so incredibly comfortable, I may just head straight to bed in it. Don’t I look sleepy up there? The fabric is a rayon jersey from here, and it handled easily without curling or slipping all over the place.

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Now, I know that this demure shirt isn’t going to turn heads, but it was deceptively time-consuming. What with all the pintucks and hand-stitching of the neckband facing and placket, I was pretty wiped out by the time I finished hemming it.

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I like the hi-lo hem. There were supposed to be slits, but I’ve decided slits just aren’t my jam. To accommodate for the change, I curved the edges of the back piece where it meets the front piece.

Other changes:

  • This pattern is meant for a woven, but I knew I wanted it in a knit.
  • Instead of snaps, I added faux buttons (I couldn’t find enough black ones in a small enough size so I settled for dark blue, which I think is a fashion no-no? Who knows)

I messed up the neckband a little where it meets the top of the placket pieces, causing the neckband to curl inward, but it’s not too bad.

One of the hilarious parts of keeping my camera on continuous shooting is that it captures candid moments. Like when I spotted an errant mosquito in my house and started to chase after it:

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OK! I have other sewing in the pipeline and I’m scheming up marketing plans with the publicity team at Sasquatch Books in a couple of days, so I hope to have some cool and noteworthy updates for you next week! I will try to post this Friday, but it might be iffy…

M7251-blackknit9At any rate, I love my new top!!!

WIP + Lamenting the Lack of Tween Sewing

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I remember this same feeling last year as I prepared for the book launch of Little K. Full of anticipation and bursting with ideas, terribly intent on creating elaborate behind-the-scenes blog posts and the whole shebang.

But all I have for you today is a work-in-progress shot, making it look ever-so-slightly less mundane with some shallow depth of field photography of a cool print fabric and even cooler pair of Gingher shears.

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Easter was a big success, though we had to delay the egg hunt due to the pouring rain. Luckily, a sliver of sunshine and a respite between showers gave the kids just enough time to find the dozens and dozens of eggs we hid.

I felt a little sad because I realized that this is the first year that I didn’t make an Easter outfit for K. I’ve hardly sewn for her these past few months. Her closet and dresser are overflowing with RTW hand-me-downs from our neighbor and she rarely wears the clothes I’ve made her now. She keeps asking me when I’ll take her shopping so she can choose clothes that she wants. I’m told that the clothes I sew are never “quite right,” which I can understand. I knew this was coming, and I thought I was prepared, but I’m still a bit deflated. She’ll come around again, I know, and I’m going to build up my couture skills for prom-dress-making in the meantime. Wait. By the time she’s in high school, maybe school dances will be held somewhere in the universe so my time might be better spent studying space suit engineering and design.

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So what you see here is something I’m making for myself. A nice and stretchy and comfy top if all goes well. One of the benefits of sewing in my bedroom is that the bed provides ample surface area to spread out fabric pieces. I hope I’ll get around to finishing it this week. Things are revving up on the book promotions front and I’m doing everything I can to keep up.

I will most likely post a little more erratically this upcoming week and beyond, but I’m incorrigible and my brain is firing up more and more ideas, begging me to make them happen. We shall see…

More Mods to The French Sailor Top

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Good morning! I’ve been experimenting with the French Sailor Top pattern from a couple of weeks ago and hallelujah, I now have two tops that will be a staple in my wardrobe. This is my original French Sailor Top (size medium with no modifications other than an extra cm in sleeve length):

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This first attempt was too tight across the chest and the bust darts were a joke.

To rectify the situation, I started by modifying the medium. I liked Angela’s suggestion of doing a broad back adjustment from that last post, so I widened the back piece by 1/2″ using step 8 of this method. I also added 1/4″ to the base of the armscye for the front pattern piece to allow for more movement and made corresponding changes to the sleeve pattern. Then I lowered the bust dart by a couple of inches, but decided a full bust adjustment probably wouldn’t be necessary. I also remembered to add an inch to the hem. Because I used an uncooperative cheap double-gauze that I cut off-grain, it looks pretty wonky. This was just a test, though, so that was ok. The fit is WAY better. I can lift my arms in this version! See image on left:

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Then, I went up a size and sewed the large for comparison. It’s weirdest thing…the shoulders were even tighter for the large, though the rest of the bodice was much looser. See how the top seems to rise above my shoulders in the image on the right? Very odd. I lowered the bust dart and added an extra inch to the hem for the large as well, and did away with the side slits. Aside from those two things, I didn’t make any changes to the larger pattern pieces.

So the winner was the medium with modifications.

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I wanted to sew it up in a polka dot fabric, but I was all out of the white-dots-on-black piece that I had in mind. Instead, I defaulted to my usual indigo. This very thin cotton has pinstripes and just the right drape. Love. Ignore the big ole burn near my wrist and word to the wise: never reach over a boiling electric kettle.

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I’ve been hoarding this Kokka gingham for many years, and I’m glad I finally cut into it but I’m on the fence about the result. The texture is reminiscent of brushed cotton and it’s a teensy weensy weightier than the pinstripe indigo cotton.

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The fit is awesome. Look how the dart is in the right place — that’s my expert eyeballing skills for ya.

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It feels…a little too country for my taste, I guess. I usually adore gingham so I don’t know why this one isn’t totally floating my boat. Despite its quintessential Japanese-ness, I also can’t shake the sense that I ought to incorporate a butter churn as a prop. Or maybe it’s because I get the urge to squat down and start milking a cow when wearing this shirt.

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I’m sure the top will grow on me; sometimes it takes wearing the garment a few times for me to fall in love.

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Ah, that’s better. Anyway, this was great practice for alterations. Because of its straightforward shape, I was able to make minor tweaks and see how they would change the fit without having to spend a lot of time (or fabric! I was able to squeeze out a top with less than 1.5 yards). I could probably add just a hair to the shoulder width and it wouldn’t hurt if the neckline lay flatter, but I’m going to call this one good.

I’m looking forward to trying the other patterns from this book!

Effortless Baby Gift

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Good morning! Our weekend was jam-packed with fun, and although I don’t have a whole lot to show for it (unless you count the dark circles under my eyes from trying to shift my schedule for Daylight Savings), I did make these sweet double-gauze blankets for a friend’s baby shower, just in time for the event on Sunday.

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Fabric design has come a long way since K was a tiny tot. I was amazed by the choices available here (love these birdies), but I got these gender neutral fabrics that are perfect for swaddle blankets from here, and a yard and a half made for a very generous-sized baby wrapper for each design. I probably could have gotten away with just a yard.

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I’m a pro at mitered corners now (this is a good reference video), and I love how soothing it is to sew these. Not much thought is required as it’s a lot of pressing and sewing straight lines — I get to zone out in a blissed out sort of way.

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I’ve decided that from here on out, swaddle blankets are my go-to baby gift. Eternally useful, simple to make, totally satisfying and always well-received (especially when they find out they’re handmade!). What’s not to love?