Christmas Dress 2014

So this was my Christmas dress of the year. I knew I wanted to do something a little bit over the top, couture inspired, silvery gray, and covered in sequins. I was predominantly inspired by this 1950s dropped waist dress by Hardy Aimes. (And created a inspiration board on pinterest.) I ended up not going with the scalloped edge neckline like I wanted, but kept the scalloped dropped waist.

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I bought an entire bolt of tulle off amazon (where, fyi, you can get it super cheap!), about 60000 sequins in a variety of gray and smoke and rainbow sheen colors, about 10000 hotfix crystals, and an acre of ribbon. I even got a tambour embroidery hook and frame, and told myself I was going to learn an awesome new skill. As you can see, I totally ran out of time. There are some sequins along the seam at the dropped waist, and at the neckline, but thats it. The neckline was actually originally going to be the edge embroidery on an epic shawl I planned to wear, but ended up repurposing when it was clear I was barely going to be able to get the dress finished, much less the decoration.

I didn’t use a pattern at all. This is probably the most complicated garment I completely planned and draped by hand. There were a couple of terrifying moments when the party I wanted to wear it to was three days away and I thought I had completely screwed up the bodice. Thanks to an amazing friend who ended up drafting extra darts while it was on my body, the thing turned out amazing. The upper back is unlined gathered tulle, and on my skin it looked amazing. I wish my dress form wasn’t gray so you could see the effect.

Overall, I am very happy with this dress. I got an unusual shape that I’d never played with before in the dropped waist. The color was beautiful at nighttime parties with lots of lights. I got a ton of compliments, and would probably wear it again if I had fancy parties to go to, ever. But I do wish I’d been able to sequin and bedazzle the shit out of it like I wanted to. Maybe I’ll get around to it someday, but I doubt it. There are always more things to sew!

Science Girl Drinks Beer… yes, again.

Science of Beer is coming up, hopefully I can get this made by thursday for Science Girl, it’s been awhile since she’s made a real appearance. I loved the interesting gradient effect on their poster and wanted to emulate it. I’m also trying out a 3D modeler that allows me to see a dress concept without going to the expense and bother of actually sewing it. Its fun to play with!

Pattern is Burda 122- Cap sleeve Godet Dress

beer15-lineart

Hops and wheat designs by Phillip Markel on spoonflower.

The middle yellow has the chemical makeup of ethanol (like the second panel in the poster) and was “designed” by me for the purpose, as well as the pale gray with museum butterfly logo.

beer15-poster

I reviewed this dress pattern here: Burda Style Cap Sleeve Godet Dress ★★

Faux-thropologie Tee

So, someone on pinterested tagged a really cute tshirt I saw made by Anthropologie (I’d link it, but I’d rather not advertise a $40 tshirt), and it had a really cool structure with cutouts on the back. And I thought to myself… I could do that…

So I did. I used a tshirt pattern I already had an that I liked, only I cut TWO back pieces. Then I free handed the shape, and cut it out of both pieces (mirrored, obviously) and sewed the bottom half up the middle. If only I’d known it would turn out so well, I would have taken progress pictures and actually made this more of a tutorial, but I honestly thought it was going to be a disaster.

There are definitely things I’d tweak about it, if/when I do it again. The front neckline isn’t perfect, and the sleeves are too wide. Maybe it should be more of a tanktop. I’d probably make the crossed strips in the back a little narrower as well. But for now, I’m calling it an excellent success!

It was also a fun chance to pull out my twin needle and practice nifty knit hemming techniques. There are some GREAT tips on finishing knit hems on this tutorial here.

The fabric is by Mod Mint Triangles by mrshervi.

Colette Zinnia in Yellow Silk

The skirt that should have had pockets…

So I was making this lovely skirt out of some yellow striped silk, following the Colette Zinnia pattern. And because it is silk, I decided I’d do all the right things. I’d take my time, measure twice, pin everything, even put proper french seams in it. And I got so into “being good” that I completely and utterly forgot to put in the pockets. And that was one of the things I am always most excited about. Oh well, lesson learned, don’t pay so much attention to the little things that you forget the big things you wanted in the first place.

You can read my review of the pattern here: Colette Zinnia Skirt ★★★★★

Regardless, this skirt is wonderful, and I quite like how it turned out. The pattern is simple and easy to follow, and workable in many different fabric types. It has twelve pleats around the skirt, and an invisible zipper and button closer in the back. It can have pockets, if you remember to put them in.

I also used some of the scraps to make a matching headband for myself. I never used to be in love with the color yellow, in my own clothing that is. But I’m really warming up to this sunshine not-quite-orange but not-quite-mustard definitely not pastel color of yellow.

Faux-thropologie Tee Tutorial

So, I saw that beautiful tshirt with its elegant cutouts on pinterest, and I thought to myself “I could do that!” So I did. Then I thought to myself “I should share how I did this!” So I am. This is my present to all my faithful readers who are here at my 201st blog post. (Not really, actually, thats a complete coincidence. But still, 201! Holy crap.)

I made some minor modifications to the pattern for my own amusement which you can choose to follow, or not, as you will. I added a bit of flare in the back, and used a tutorial for petal sleeves. I also thickened the crosspieces, because the knit I was working with was pretty thin and I was worried that going too narrow would be just be difficult and annoying. That knit, by the way, I found at Joanns for $4/yd.

Feel free to go with your instincts, change things up, and make a shirt that YOU want to wear.

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For this tutorial, you’ll want to use a comfortable 4-way stretch knit, and contemplate using a serger, or double needle. You should also have a basic tshirt pattern that you’ve used before and know you like. (If you don’t have such a pattern already, I highly recommend this Deer-and-Doe pattern. Its free, simple to follow, and looks great on everyone!.) I used bias-tape made of the same fabric to finish all the edges in my shirt, but that’s not necessary. If you want, you can simply use a fold-over hem. This site has some great tutorials on a variety of ways to finish knit hems.

So, to make this shirt you’re going to want to modify the back pattern piece of a generic tshirt pattern. The front and sleeves will stay exactly the same. I’m going to use some pretty impressively crappy paint sketches to illustrate my points.

Trace the back pattern piece out on some large sheets of paper. If your pattern is a piece that is “cut on the fold” flip it over so that you have a full piece, exactly like the piece of fabric you *would* be cutting out for the back. Find and mark the center line of the piece.

step1

Then, on one “half” of the pattern piece start at the shoulder neckline and draw a dip and a line that crosses the center line, and goes all the way to the opposite shoulder. Starting off parallel to that line, but a few inches lower (how much lower is up to you, that will determine the width of the crosspieces) draw another line that that crosses the centerline, and then curves back towards it to end in the middle of your back. If those words made absolutely no sense, as I suspect is the case, just look at this image:

step2
If you want a more flared effect like my brown shirt, continue the line diagonally to end somewhere on the other half of the shirt pattern. If you want a straighter/tighter back to your shirt, just follow the centerline straight down. This is your NEW back piece. You’re going to want to cut out two of them (but mirrored, obviously.)

Next, I would recommend finishing the lower edge of the cutout and crosspiece on BOTH back pieces in whatever way you choose. It’ll be easier to do it now than later. I’ve highlighted the edge I’m talking about in purple below:

step4

Then sew the shoulder seams together. You’ll end up with a funny kind-of T-shaped thing, with the crosspieces of each back pointed toward the center.

step5

Next, you’ll want to finish the edges of the neckline and the top side of each crosspiece.

step6

After that, you’ll want to sew up the seam in the center back. Go only as far as the bottom of the cutout curve. Also go ahead and put the sleeves on, or if you’re doing a tanktop finish the edges of the armholes.

step7

Then, you’ll want to sew up the side seams. Go from the edges of the sleeves, all the way through the armpit (making sure to match the sleeve seams) and down the shirt to the bottom hem. Finish the bottom hem in whatever way you see fit.

step8

Finally, you’ll want to attach the crosspieces to the inside of their OPPOSITE shoulder seam. You might want to put it on and play with their placing for a couple of minutes. The angle at which you end up sewing them can make a difference.

step9

And you should end up with something that looks sort of like the attached images!

This whole concept is also pretty easy to tweak and customize and get creative with. I added petal sleeves in one variation, and did no sleeves at all in another.

You can also cut different shapes, or even do multiple crosspieces. I haven’t been brave enough to try more than two crosspieces on each side yet, but I think you could end up with an incredibly complex and beautiful pattern.

Or instead of the leaf-like oval cut-out at the bottom, I think it’d be pretty easy to make a shape more like a heart, or go with super straight lines and make a triangle. The possibilities are endless!

Feel free to share your success and even your failures with me! I’m curious to see if anyone else has any luck with this.

Painted Dress

I believe I may have mentioned how much I love the effect of watercolor prints on fabric. This is one of my favorites. Wearing it makes me feel like I’ve rolled around on an artist’s palette. The design is by HeyTangerine, and you can find it here.

The pattern is Peony by Colette. I altered it slightly to lengthen the sleeves and add fullness to the skirt. The original was a woven fabric, and had a zipper up the back. But I’m a big fan of comfort and laziness, as you know. By simply removing the zipper and using a 4-way stretch I can pull this dress on over my head.

You can read my review of this pattern here: Colette Peony Dress ★★★

The belt is a separate detachable piece, and is reversible if I want a different color effect.

Also, it has POCKETS! Damn straight.

The fabric is my still ever-favorite Spoonflower Modern Jersey.

Rain of Words

I wanted to make curtains for the full length, west-facing windows in my corner of the office. (The sun is rather dramatically bright, and I have to stare at a computer screen all day. It doesn’t work out after 2pm.)

I’m one of those weird people that like rainy days, and I loved the thought of having curtains that echo that overcast peaceful rainy-day feeling. I’ll be able to pull these closed and think “Go away sun, give me rain!”

I also love the way watercolor painting print on our fabric; the texture and color and detail is just so wonderful, it looks like someone has painted directly on the fabric. I’ve been meaning to play around with making my own watercolor designs for a while, and this rainy-curtains project seemed like the perfect time!

I absolutely love the way these clouds turned out. You will definitely be seeing them again.

I kept the texture of the watercolor paper, and put in some some of my favorite quotes about rain. (Authors include E.E. Cummings, Shakespeare, Rabindranath Tagore and many many others.)

If you, too, would like a set of rainy day curtains, you can find them on spoonflower: I Woke the the Sound of Rain. NOTE: the trick is you have to set it to 3yards to see the full image.

rain

Chevron Dress

Remember that velvet christmas dress? I said I had plans for that pattern again, and here it is! I chose this fabric because it exaggerates the interesting piece-work construction. The pattern is Vogue 8814. It’s fascinating to me how the same pattern can create dramatically different dresses. Summery and bright and floaty, versus dark and smooth and luxurious.

The fabric is by Domesticate of Spoonflower, printed on kona cotton. I wrote a review for this pattern here: Vogue Dress V8814 ★★

This was also an excuse to play with some hand embroidery. It is a braided chain stitch. I love the tutorials on Sarah’s Hand Embroidery’s website, the pictures are clear and beautiful and helpful.

Blue Corduroy Skirt

This is one of those examples of times when I make a horrible mistake that turns out perfectly. For you see, I’d forgotten that corduroy not only has a very obvious grain line, but that light hits it differently in one direction of that grain than the other. And yet I paid no attention to which way the top of my pieces were pointing when I cut them out.

You can see the offending pieces right there to the side of the center panel, yes, the ones that perfectly accentuate your hips in a skirt like this. I feel like the vertical lines create a slimming effect, an also exaggerate the curves in the interesting piecework of this pattern. I love that I wasn’t paying attention and it worked out so wonderfully. Sometimes luck happens.

The pattern itself is Vogue 8750. I chose it because it has that interesting bit of flare and twirl, and I love the construction. It was very easy and simple pattern to put together, for all its apparent complexity. I went to a little effort to make it actually look professional and did some topstitching along the seam lines.

All in all, I’m excessively pleased with this skirt. I wrote a review of the pattern I used here: Vogue Skirt V8750 ★★★★

Science Girl Goes To Space

The local museum wished to celebrate the flight of Yuri Gargarin, the first man in space, and of course Space Girl had to go along.

The pattern was a simple one I actually used previously on this octopus dress, when I first joined spoonflower (and completely unrelated, started sewing more frequently). McCall’s M6027. I wrote a review of this pattern here: McCall’s Dress M6027 ★★★

The fabric is one of Spoonflower’s most popular galaxy prints. But, it wasn’t quite evocative of a true midnight sky… It needed something more.

I used the excellent bedazzling skills I learned at halloween to give the dress a little extra sparkle.

The dress was a big hit, everyone loved it. There was even a place where you could pose with real space-gear in front of the moon mural. Science Girl couldn’t fit the helmet on her head, so she chose the boot instead.