Maxi

Floral Anna Maximus

I’m so excited to share this post! I’ve been wanting to make an Anna dress from By Hand London since I first laid eyes on it. I never really had a good reason to make such a dress though until last year. I was working on the Sew My Style challenge from Bluebird Fabrics. Anna dress was one of the patterns towards the end of the year. That was good enough reason for me. Unfortunately it never came to fruition. Me and Hubby bought a house. That ended up taking so much time that all the rest of the patterns for the challenge went kaput.

Until now! Me and Hubby were invited to a wedding. What more perfect reason to make a great dress!?! I decided to do the v-neck and the thigh high split. I was not thrilled with the sleeves on the dress. The bodice is all one piece that includes the sleeves. I reworked it to have a regular shoulder seam and include flutter sleeves.

I bought a pink floral rayon from CaliFabrics. I went back and forth on this fabric for awhile. I was afraid the light pink would wash me out. Finally, after encouraging words from others I purchased it. It’s so lovely and rayon is one of my favorite fabrics.

With a dress like this I knew the bodice was going to make or break it, so I had to make a muslin. I made three total. I had to take it in near the bust and let it out at my waist. Plus I had to make all the adjustments for the sleeve change. Oh, and my shoulder width is kinda small so I usually take out at least an inch vertically from the center of the pattern. Otherwise the neckline is way too wide on me.

I was terrified to cut my nice fabric and went super slow sewing it all, worried I was going to ruin it. I did use cotton for the facing to keep the neckline nice and crisp. I had a cream color that wouldn’t show through the fabric. I think it worked out well. I could have used the floral rayon for the facing but then I could have had a chance of the flower pattern showing through.

The skirt went so fast after that. I did not French seam anything but the seam of the split. Also didn’t hand stitch that shit. No way, nuh uh. That was not going to happen. I hate hand stitching anything.

I did learn a new skill on this dress. I put in my first invisible zip! It really is something to behold. It’s so much easier than I thought it would be! I even got the waist seam to match up. I put this guy in once and there it stayed. I’ve never had that with a zipper.

The flutter sleeves were a dream that I had for this dress. It was meant to have flutter sleeves. It makes such a romantic dress. When I add an element that I’ve never done before, I research the crap out of it. There was a long tutorial about taking your sleeve piece and slicing it into a big arc. Well I didn’t have a sleeve piece so I take a few measurements on what I had and crafted a test piece. It didn’t work out too bad. I needed to lengthen the underside to get the hem to even out all around.

The dress came out amazing! I felt super fancy and that thigh high split makes the dress move! This is a pic from the wedding venue. We had a great time!

I took wayyy too many pictures of this dress. I love it so much! I was good and condensed my amount of photos here. I probably took about 30 though! I feel so late getting in on the Anna dress madness. Totally worth the wait though!

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Navy Florla

I’ve been wanting to revisit this pattern for a while now. The free pattern Orla by French Navy. I made a maxi in grey jersey. I love that dress but I always envisioned the pattern in a great floral.

I bought a navy floral fabric from Cali Fabrics. The right side has a crepe texture to make it interesting. This ain’t your plain Jane jersey fabric people!

I made this dead-on like my grey version so of course that means changes to the original pattern. The neckline is higher, I added pockets, made the sleeves longer and the dress is full length. Everything even looks super profesh with the double stitching from my twin needle. I added that around the neck and sleeves.


The dress fits so well. There’s two darts in the front and two in back of the bodice. All these darts help to suck the dress in to fit your bod. Plus the waist hits right at your natural waist so it flatters my shape and hides a big ole booty.


I left a healthy amount of fabric at the bottom to fold under so there’s a good weight at the hem. I think it helps to hang better and move well when I walk. The pockets I stole from another pattern. They’re super deep and they’re pockets…in my dress! That’s enough for me to be uber happy!


I love this dress! It’s comfortable, doesn’t require shaved legs, and looks fabulous on. It’s everything I hoped it would be.

Orla

Instagram brings a lot of things to my attention.  The two latest are the free download of The Orla Dress by French Navy Patterns which has a dress challenge and the maxi sewalong both for the month of July.  I was planning on making a maxi dress with the ridiculous amount of fabric I scored for $7.50 from Walmart. (15 yards of knits) Maxi fabric check! The Orla Dress happened to be what I was envisioning for my maxi. Dress pattern check! The sewing gods are encouraging.

The Olra dress is designed as a short sleeved, knee skimming dress. It has darts in the front and back, gathered waist and zip up the center back. The dress challenge does encourage you to “hack” the dress pattern. (BTW, totally hate that word “hack”. It makes me think of spitting a giant ball of phlegm.) I’m not scared about changing up a pattern so no problem! I decided to lengthen the sleeves, omit the zip, change knee-skimming to maxi, add pockets and tighten up the neckline.


As I was cutting my fabric I re-worked 1 pattern piece in particular. The front piece of the pattern was too wide at the shoulders. As I mentioned, I was going to tighten the neckline. It’s a lower scoop neckline and I wanted more of a t-shirt style. I raised the front by 1″ and redrew the curve. I also had to move in the shoulders. I honestly can’t remembered how much I took it in but it was a lot. The pattern piece looks a bit like Frankenstein now. I did taper both bodice pieces (front & back) by a bit toward the waist to make it more fitted.


When I was sewing the bodice I had a bit of an issue with the darts. I’ve never sewn darts coming up from the waist like this. I wasn’t sure where they were supposed to stop and should they look like they are at the center of my boobs or what? I winged it. I had to do the first one a few times before it looked right. I moved them both more towards the center compared to what was on the original but I guess that makes sense considering all the damage I did to the original piece. What was nice about this bodice is that I didn’t have to shorten or lengthen it!


I added clear elastic into the waist. It’s a lot of fabric that needs to be gathered and I wanted to make sure it wouldn’t stretch out and lose its shape. Plus it nips it in just a tidbit. 



What you end up with is a boring, grey maxi. And I love it! I don’t normally make plain Jane kind of stuff. I love prints but having something boring that I can accessorize is a nice change.

You can check out more about the Orla Dress Month Challenge and Maxi Sewalong by clicking the images below.orlamonthbanner

Flower Power Reimagined

I noticed lately that a lot of the clothes I made when I first started sewing aren’t getting a lot of wear. That mainly has to do with my sewing skills being at a whole other level so all my new stuff is super amaze-balls. Instead of parting ways with my old makes, why not reimagine it?

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I made this maxi skirt out of poly chiffon. (You’ll recognize the fabric from my Granny Chic top) I didn’t wear the skirt a lot because I had a hard time pairing it with anything. What top to put with it? When I did pick a top I would have to wrestle with it to keep it down because the fabric is so slick.

With the big shirtdress craze going on right now, I thought why not? There should be enough fabric to knock it out. I picked my fav shirt pattern, B5526. There is a tunic length version already included (version C) so if I add a few more inches, take it in a bit at the sides up top and add a bit of space for my rump, it should be completely doable. I also didn’t want full sleeves, so that saves what limited fabric I have. This should give me an a-line, 3/4 length sleeve shirtdress.

The skirt came apart quickly and easily giving me two big panels of fabric. I went for the main three pieces first (2 front panels, 1 back). This way if I run out I can modify my original thought. Sleeveless with a mandarin collar would still work. Luckily, I had enough fabric for all the pieces. Even had enough for two tabs to hold up my 3/4 sleeves.


Most of the construction went fast. The collar takes the longest because, well because it’s fussy and I have to read the instructions. I hate reading instructions. I just want to make! I also sewed a few pieces on wrong so seam ripper to the rescue! Once I got the collar on I added the sleeves and a small cuff, which you can kinda see in the pic. I waited to add the tabs until I could properly try the dress on. I ended up placing them 1″ higher than the pattern indicated.  I can button the tab or leave them loose and the tab completely hides in the sleeve.


On the hem of the dress I made bias tape. I could have serged the edge and turned it a couple times. But with this kind of fabric that tiny seam would have flared out and drove me crazy. The tape ensured the hem had a bit of weight and it would hang straight down.


After completion I felt eh. Have you ever made something, put it on and went “eh”? That’s this dress. Is it the fabric? Do I need to add some back darts to give it more shape? Am I not used to wearing this kind lose style?

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I did give a belt a go just to see if I felt better about the dress. It’s okay that way too. Oh well, I like it better than the maxi skirt.


So here’s my glam shot of my “eh” dress. Well maybe not glam of me but definitely glam of Freckles. Look at his majestic beauty! I was worried about button gap the whole time I was making the dress. With 10 buttons down the front, no peekaboo. So I got that going for me, which is nice.

You Dirty Rat

Have you ever worked on a project that has crushed you? You’ve cursed it or has it cursed you? I’ve worked on projects that have pushed me to what I thought was my sewing breaking point. All those past moments pale in comparison to this month’s project.

A pattern that has been on my to-do list for over a year has been Vogue 9001. I’ve been in love with the maxi dress. Big, flowy, girlie and I really can’t resist that comfort that maxi dresses bring. One of the main reasons I’ve been putting this off has been the amount of fabric this guy takes. 6 1/2 yards! To put that in perspective to make a long sleeve button down takes 1 7/8 yds and 3 1/4 yds for a pair of trousers . This dress is massive! I can tell you after cutting it, it’s easy to see all that fabric is hid in the skirt. There’s a pleat in the front and back of the skirt where it dwells until you move and it’s unleashed in a swirl of fabric.


Everything sounds pretty pleasant besides the amount of fabric right? I cut out the pieces for the skirt first and put those together. It was quick and it gets the biggest part of the dress out of the way. I decided that since the bodice is so fitted and it has some unwanted seams (more on that in a moment) I would make a muslin. I very rarely make muslins. I don’t like the additional time and fabric it takes. I used cotton fabric I had no plans for. The bodice was a super large size because according to my measurements I needed to 14. I usually do an 8. The only finished garment measurements were the length of the dress. Pretty disappointed in that.


Here’s the first go. The seam I hate is the one right across the boobs. Why would I want a seam connecting my nipples? The straps have a double strap kind of look and the inner piece that curves into the low neck is quite fiddly but I figure it’ll be okay. I made another muslin of the two front pieces that make the boobie border into one. I drew with chalk on my fabric the big piece and then lined up the lower piece below that taking in consideration the 5/8″ seam allowance.


This is my new piece. Instead of having two pieces, there’s a bust dart to bring to fabric around and accommodate boobage. I was really happy and excited about this easy solution. I cut out the bodice pieces and my replacement pieces. The bodice has a lining and I had some leftover black lining that I cut out too. Things are going well so I sewed up both bodices. Now the moment of truth, sewing them together.

Everything went wrong. The fiddly bit of the strap that goes down into the neckline wouldn’t lay flat no matter what I did. I decided to connect the strap down before trying to sew it to the lining. I cut out the bodice pieces again and sewed the lining to the outter fabric. It was laying a bit more flat. I just needed to trim the excess around the turn from the strap to the neck. As if this bodice couldn’t be making me anymore mad from all the ripping, cutting and fussiness, I cut through the seam! My trimming now became a maiming. I cut an inch hole straight down from the neckline into the bodice. I have enough fabric for one more go. This has to be right or the dress was going to become a skirt rather quickly.


If one dart worked well, why not two? I drafted another new piece. This one incorporates 4 of the original pieces down to 1 and rids me of the fiddly bits. I went very slow and thought out every move as I sewed. I had to take the straps in a bit here and there, cut the arm holes lower and take 1 1/2 – 2″ out of the sides. For something that looks decently easy on paper, became the biggest dirty rat in life.

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The dress called for 2″ horsehair braid along the bottom. Unfortunately Jo-Ann’s only carries 1″. The pattern calls for 5 1/2 yds. I bought 5 3/4 yds. I ended up being 2-3″ short. No one will ever notice it the 6 yds of skirt swirling around.

The finished product turned out great. My immediate feeling was “meh”. After all that trouble and work I feel that it should have glowed and felt glorious. I think I was more relieved it was finished.  Such an underwhelming feeling.  I started this bodice on May 6 and didn’t finish the dress until May 30. Dirty rat.