Jul 31, 2014

the butterfly blouse: v1247

Sewing with the Big Four is a very different experience than sewing with independent patterns.  I learned to sew for my kids from Oliver and S, and when I began sewing my own clothing, the Colette Sewing Handbook was the perfect place to start. I have lots of love for Sewaholic patterns these days too.  Independent patterns (at least the ones I've work with) seem to focus more on detailed instructions with diagrams and clear explanations; in fact, this seems like a requirement for success in the independent pattern market.  Obviously, this is a huge benefit to a beginning sewist--when people ask me how to get started sewing, I always recommend that they start with a Colette pattern instead of a Simplicity or Butterick.  That's not to say that all independent patterns are easy, but there seems to be a lot more help in the instructions and on the internet to help someone who gets stuck.

However, I have quite enjoyed sewing my last few projects from Vogue patterns.  Each one presented a new construction method and unique design, and I liked doing something a little different.  For example, this blouse has a pieced section that was interesting to construct, especially with french seams, along with shoulder pleats, bias cuffs, and a narrow curved hem.  I've done all of these things in separate garments before, and combining them meant that this blouse became a bit fiddly--lots of little details to take care of.

Overall, I like this blouse.  The v-neck is dangerously low, but the loose, drapey fit is cool and comfortable in the summer heat.  After reading the many reviews and posts about this pattern, I decided to cut a size 8 instead of the 12 I actually measure for, and I almost wish I had gone with a 6.  To be honest, the fit is not that great.  The bust darts are at least an inch too low, and I think I could stand to take up the shoulders half an inch or so.  The fabric saves the day.  This is an Anna Maria Horner rayon challis, and it is heavenly.  I did a lot of stay stitching on the bottom sections and on the neckline, and I think that helped the bottom section come together easily and drape pretty nicely.  I'm afraid I still managed to stretch out one side of the neckline a tiny bit, but it's not very noticeable.

I'm not sure why there is a seam down the back of the blouse.  Maybe to save fabric?  I'm not sure I will make this blouse again, but if I do, I'll probably eliminate that seam.

The final verdict for me is that I enjoyed the process of sewing this blouse, and I'm sure it will get it's fair share of wear.

This is my awkward model pose.  Enjoy. :-)

Jul 27, 2014


July has been a month full of travel for my family.  We've been to the beach twice, and my husband and I have both traveled for work.  I very rarely travel for my job, but of course, if I'm going to do it, I may as well do it in the same week as my husband.  My poor children spent almost two weeks away from home, but they had a blast at Grandmama Camp and on a family beach vacation.  However, I think we're all about ready to resume a semi-normal schedule.

All this running around means that I've been away from my sewing machine for quite a while (*sob!), but I managed to finish up a dress before I left for my travels.  Here is Vogue 1395, also seen around the web here, here, and here.

This is a fantastic summer dress.  I wore it during one of my presentations at the HSTW conference in Nashville, on a date night in Myrtle Beach, and to church this morning.  Basically, it can go anywhere.

I found this lovely rayon crepe de chine at Wanderlust fabrics, and I can't recommend the fabric and the shop enough.  I've been on a rayon buying kick lately anyway.  It's just so comfortable in the heat and humidity.  It can be a little shifty though--I cursed a few times when I was trying to get the binding on the armholes.  I love wearing it though.

The design of this dress is fun to sew.  My mom always said that she would never sew a Vogue pattern--I guess Vogue used to be pretty stingy with the directions or something--but I found the directions easy to follow.  After checking out the amount of ease in this dress, I decided to size down and cut a 10.  I took up the shoulders 3/8" and used French seams instead of the double stitching recommended by the pattern.  All in all, this dress was fairly easy to construct.  I love how the back overlay wraps around to tie at the front waist.  It's a cool design feature, but it also means that this dress is really comfortable and practical.

The back overlay does seem to pull down a bit.  I actually went back and tightened the elastic at the waist to keep things where they are supposed to be, and that helped a bit.  I have caught my reflection a few times and thought that I spotted a dip in the hem, but I think it's due to the movement.  It hasn't bothered me enough to try to fix it, and it looks straight in the pictures.  I do wish I had considered pattern placement across the center back seam when I cut the back bodice, but oh well.

There's an interesting gathered detail near the top of the back bodice.  I felt sure I would botch it, but I followed the directions, and it turned out fine.  I also really like the way the skirt lining hides the elastic casing at the waist.  The casing is basically sandwiched between the dress and the lining--this would work really well for the Sewaholic Saltspring if you wanted to add a skirt lining.

This was my first time working with a Vogue pattern, and I'm quite pleased with the result, especially since I caught a $3.99 sale on it.  I'm not sure I need ten of these dresses in my closet, but I could see this dress looking wonderful in a solid color in a fancier fabric like silk.  

Jul 1, 2014

cambie #3

I really love Sewaholic Patterns, enough that they are becoming my go-to for a successful, stress-free sewing experience.  I mean, I did make three Belcarra blouses in quick succession.  It's just nice to know that these patterns (at least Renfrew, Cambie, Saltspring, Belcarra, and Alma {post coming soon!}) will fit me right out of the envelope and the final product will look professional and awesome.  I guess I'm just trying to justify my third Cambie dress. :-)


I love this finished dress.  After my last failed batik project, I wanted a project that I knew would end in a successful, lovely, wearable dress.  This fabric is another batik, pretty similar in weight to a quilting cotton.  I originally bought enough fabric for the gathered skirt version, but the more I touched this fabric, the more I realized that the A-line skirt would work better with the weight and drape.  I'm presenting at a conference in a few weeks (my first time, and I am so nervous!), and I think this dress will be perfect for my presentation.

Folding laundry is my enemy. 

Since I've now made this pattern three times, I thought I would detail a few of the construction changes I made this time around.  I think this version is the most well-constructed, which means that it will hopefully last for quite a few years.  

Check out my photo bomber. :-)

On my first version of this dress, I think I over-fit the sleeves and I used my lining fabric for the sleeve lining.  When I wear that dress, my movement is a little bit restricted, which is not cool when I am trying to help my giant two-year-old in and out of his car seat.  However, the beauty of fitting the sleeves last is that this helps fix any neckline gaps (at least for me; all bodies are different).  On this newest Cambie, I added some stay tape leftover from my many Renfrews to the neckline to keep it from stretching out.  I used the batik as the sleeve lining, and I fitted the sleeves with hand basting before I used my machine.  This gave me a little more control over the placement, and I pulled the inner side of the sleeve a little tighter than the outer edge.  This means that the sleeve sits pretty closely to my chest, but there is more ease for movement at my shoulder.  Win!


Since my batik is basically quilting cotton, I wanted to protect my seam allowances so that this dress will hold up well, but I don't have a serger.  Instead, I decided to catch-stitch my seam allowances to keep them flat in the hopes that this will prevent some friction and fraying later on.  I'll add an update on the effectiveness of this method after a few wears and washes.


I much prefer lapped zippers to invisible zippers.  I'm not very confident in my invisible zipper abilities, and I think the lapped zipper gives me more control over matching the waistband seams.  My only regret is that I didn't interface the seam allowance before I inserted my zipper.  Grrr.  Maybe it won't make much of a difference; one more thing for me to watch over the next few wears and add to my update. :-)


Even though no one will see the pockets since they are sandwiched between the dress and the lining, I still wanted to finish the raw edge.  I used a narrow pink bias strip, but I applied like a facing instead of sandwiching the seam allowance.  This way, the pocket edge that lies (lays?) against the  dress is smooth.  I also used my stay tape to reinforce the pocket openings on the skirt.

Overall, I'm so happy with how this dress turned out.  Don't be surprised if a few more Cambies pop up here from time to time...

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