16 January 2016

Hot Patterns Uptown/Downtown Dress

After a five year hiatus from anything Hot Patterns, I decided to give the Uptown/Downtown Dress a try.  Why so long a break?  I was totally put off by that damn princess seam shirt collar.  After many tries and getting help from Michelle, I finally got the collar on correctly - only to find that the sleeve had 37,392 inches of ease and would not set properly.  I was DONE and chucked that foolishness into a fiery pit.

The U/D Dress has been on my radar for a while.  Testing out one of my 2016 intentions, I decided to forego the muslin and JUST SEW IT.  I traced a straight size 14 and cut it out of some black ponte for the body and white ponte for the neck/hem bands and cuffs.  The knit was the icky kind from Joann, so I knew I wouldn't be upset if it didn't work out.

Well.  It didn't.  The skirt and bodice were okay, but the neck binding was awful.  The fabric for the neck/hem band and cuffs really needs to have some stretch for it to look right. 

Since I didn't care about this fabric, I used it as an opportunity to test out the elastic waist.  Haha.  This actually turned out to be a muslin.  But...but...but...it didn't start as a muslin, so that's progress.  

Now here's the real deal:

Fabric & Notions:
  • 2 yards poly sweater knit (stash)
  • 2 yards black jet set knit for underling (stash)
  • less than 1/2 yard black rib knit for neckband, cuffs, and hem-band
  • 3/4" elastic
  • sewing machine and serger thread
  • size 80/12 jersey needle
Sizing/Alterations:  The only change I made was a 1" full seat adjustment.  Since the front and back skirt pattern pieces are the same, I traced a separate piece to make the adjustment.  Easy-peasy, as Trudy would say.

Fabric:  For a sweater knit, this fabric was thin.  Like nice-undies-you-have-there thin.   So I hand basted black jet set knit to every piece - eight in total.  I will never love hand sewing.  Ever.


Sewing:  All major construction was done on my serger - after first sewing the seam with a slight zig-zag stitch on my sewing machine.  I learned this from Kyle.  =)  Usually I am impatient with knits and sewing machines, but because I wanted to do this right, I sewed the seam first to check for fit and puckers, then serged the seams together.  I don't think I picked a single serger stitch!  This is usually not the case when I do it the lazy way.

The bodice has three lengths - each designed to give a different "blousing" effect depending on the weight of your knit.  Even though the shortest length was ideal for my fabric, I chose  the middle length so that I could (a) have better control of the "blousing" and (b) sew the elastic casing a la Debbie Cook.  

Hot Patterns has you stitch the elastic to the fabric...or something.  I didn't even try to understand what Trudy was talking about.  I read Debbie's review and found her method to be much simpler.  With the skirt and bodice pinned right sides together, I sewed a 1" seam.  Then, I serged the seams together, leaving an opening for inserting the elastic.

What you end up with is a self-casing and no headache.

I'll probably always wear this dress with a belt. I'm not really feeling it otherwise.  The picture on the right shows the dress with the StyleArc Cosy cardigan (not yet reviewed).  The dress is warm enough to not need a cardigan and I don't like how it looks with it anyway.

I will definitely make more versions of the pattern - even in ponte knit.  The key to making this work is getting the right fabric for the neckband, cuffs, and hem.  Too little stretch and it's fug city.


This dress is one of six pieces that I've planned for a 6PAC.  My plan:
  • dress (Hot Patterns 1090) - done
  • cardi (StyleArc Cosy) - done
  • ruffled blouse (Simplicity 2365/2447 frankenpattern) - almost done
  • knit cowl neck top (Simplicity 1945) - in progress
  • skirt 1 (???)
  • skirt 2 (???)
So far I like where this is going - despite the colors being a little drab. =)

Until next time, peace!



11 January 2016

2015 Sewing Year in Review

I'm a little (okay a lot) late posting my year in review.  It seems my annual January cold came knocking right on schedule.  I was out for four days, but thankfully I am close to back to normal.  It's a good thing because after four days of drinking a year's worth of orange juice (for me at least), I really feel sluggish and want to work out.

"The Year of the Turtle" is how I describe my sewing adventures.  I sewed a total of 21 wearable garments.  There were actually a few more, but I don't consider them wearable.  Womp womp.

The Stats (includes wadders)

By garment:
  • 11 tops/cardigans
  • 6 skirts
  • 3 pairs of pants
  • 2 pairs of jeans
  • 2 jackets
  • 1 coat
By company:
  • 6 New Look
  • 6 BWOF/BurdaStyle
  • 4 Jalie
  • 3 Kwik Sew
  • 3 McCall's
  • 2 Simplicity
  • 1 Skinny Bitch Curvy Chick

BWOF 9-2006-104 (trench coat):  Wonky front facing notwithstanding, I am OVER THE MOON about this coat.  I love everything about it and feel good when I wear it.  Everything, and I mean everything, excites me about this coat!  I will definitely make another one.  Who says you can't have more than one trench coat??

BWOF 8-2009-107 (trench skirt):  Why not continue the trend with a trench skirt?  Again, Burda knocked it out of the park with the design of this skirt.  While it may be too small right now, I am still going to rock it.

Simplicity 2284 (jacket):  Having sewn Jalie 2559 a few times, I wanted to try a different style.  2284 proved to be the break from monotony that I wanted.  The fit is great and the style is simple enough to be chic and classic.  Love!

The wadders were a-plenty this year.  From bad fit to bad fabric, the FAIL was strong this year.

New Look 6407:  Despite this pattern being a TNT, I hate hate HATE this version.  The collar band is wonky in the worst way.  I think I have enough fabric to re-cut the stand and add the collar.  If this shirt is to be saved, then that's what I'll have to do. 

McCall's 7254:  This was on my must-sew list as soon as McCall's released it.  The result?  Massive fail.  Fabric weight is definitely important for this pattern.  My acrylic sweater knit was too fluid and created this unsightly mess.  I tried steaming out some of the fullness and pressing aggressively.  Nothing.  In the donation pile it goes.

Simplicity 1523:  I liked how this top fit, but those side bust pleats (WTF!) are a major NO.  There is potential with this pattern; I need to take the time to fold out the pleats.

Nakisha, you've made this top a couple of times and loved it.  How did you handle those boob wings...er...pleats?

Butterick 5678:  I give up.  I tried this pattern three times and always got the fugliest fit.   I am moving the eff on.

UFOs carred into 2016
The McCall's trench coat (5525) is still a UFO.  Le sigh.  I do not know why I can't bring myself to finishing this damn coat. 

Stashbusting Challenge 2015
Last January, I made a pledge to use at least 50 pieces of stash fabric and 10 patterns.  I used 22 pieces of stash totaling 38.75 yards and 8 patterns.  Again with the womps.  The pledge is on for 2016. This time, I am setting a more realistic (hah!) goal:  use 30 pieces of stash and 10 never-used patterns.  Stash counts as anything on hand from 1 Jan 2016.

2015 Sewing Intention Results
  • Sew exclusively from the stash and not buy fabric: Bwahahahahahahahaha
  • Make a full-length and warm tailored coat:  Never got around to it.  Still need it though.
  • Make a bra:  Maybe I should just stop adding this to the list.  
  • Start from Scratch:  Good intentions, mediocre execution.  Even though I've become more aware of how to style my outfits, I still have a ways to go with the wardrobe revamp.  
  • Sew one BWOF magazine per month:  That "per month" thing got me.  Hah!
2016 Sewing Intentions
  • Make two wool coats:  I have A LOT of wool coating and only one wool coat.  O_o  I should do something about that.
  • Just sew it:  Muslins are very useful, but they take time and often zap my sewjo.  I want to be more confident in the fit adjustments I need and make them right from the beginning - without a muslin.  For complicated or new pattern companies, I'll still do a muslin.  But for companies that I use regularly, I am going to make the adjustments I need, add just-in-case seam allowances and go for it.  
  • Curb the fabric buying:  This is a never-ending goal.  Even though I bought fabric last year, the amount purchased is no greater than in recent years.
  • Use more stash:  There is enough of it!
  • Sew the 6PAC:  A few years ago, I created and sewed a couple of six-piece wardrobes.  This plan worked well and kept me motivated to sew.  I started my first 6PAC already and completed two of the intended garments. 
That's my 2015 sewing year.  As always, I am thankful to all that stop by to read and share their thoughts.  Happy belated new year to everyone! 

02 January 2016

Fashion D.Fined

On Tuesday, Anne and I visited the Fashion D.Fined:  The Past, Present and Future of Detroit Fashion exhibition at the Detroit Historical Museum.  The exhibit featured work by designers spanning several decades and local to Detroit or the metro Detroit area.

From the museum's website:

"Fashion D.Fined explores 20th century design and retail alongside the designers and grass roots fashion retailers of today, including costumes from the 1940s, 50s, 60s and even 70s from well-known retailers such as Hudsons, Himelhoch’s, Claire PĂ©arone, B. Siegel and Winkelman’s.

Additionally, today’s innovative Detroit designers and retailers are highlighted. Legendary designers John Varvatos, Anna Sui, Tracy Reese, Vicki Sarge and many more creative Detroiters who have made their mark locally and nationally are featured, along with retailers, designers, and manufacturers like Carhartt and Will Leather Goods and smaller boutique shops like The Peacock Room. 

Visitors will see that Detroit design is so much more than cars!"

(Click here to view the source page.)

I didn't catch the names of the designers for all of the garments photographed.  

My favorite look is the first one.  While it's not high fashion, it is something I would wear - minus two of the collars.

I have a challenge for Kyle, the zippered-pocket queen.  How would you make this? Do you think the zipper is functional?  It looks like it opens up to the pocket, but then there's a pocket flap.  Hmm...

The dress on the right is by Anna Sui.  

This dress was gorgeous in person and really...grand.  I think the buildings were also hand-painted by another local artist.  The building in this picture is the Penobscot Building in downtown Detroit.

This designer sources her material from old automobiles.  The petals are leather and the underskirt is made of seat belts.  Oh and yes, that necklace is made of bullets

This ponte knit dress is gorgeous and not a print!  Each oval is sewn into the garment.  Look at how precise the points are!  Anne said that this would be a fun challenge to sew.  Yeah, no.  Trying to sew those points would drive me insane.

This is a jacket made by John Varvatos for Jimi Hendrix.  This is the best glare-free shot I could get.  The details are divine.

In addition to garments from native designers, there were several images and placards describing fashion in the D over the years.  This is an image of a greeter at the old J.L. Hudson building downtown.

When I think of fashion, my hometown normally doesn't come to mind.  Visiting the exhibit made me realize that talent can be found anywhere and one doesn't have to be from NYC, Milan, Paris, or other major fashion hubs to make a statement.

I can't remember the last time I visited the Historical Museum.  I enjoyed the visit with Anne and will likely go back to see the other regular installations.  Thanks Anne!  

Up next:  I need to finish my year-in review post.  I made two, yes TWO garments already to kick off the new year.  And, I've started work on a third! 

Until next time, peace!



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