The thoughts, sewing projects, and fabric oglings of a dedicated sewist.

Giveaway at ReFab Diaries

My good friend Candice has a great giveaway going on over at her blog, ReFab Diaries. The giveaway closes on Friday, May 2, so get over there and throw your hat in the ring!

Click here to find all the details!

A Most Satisfying Refashion

As I mentioned a few posts back, I have a number of refashioning projects in my work line-up. I finished the housecoat-to-tailored coat project at the end of last week, and I'm excited to show you how it turned out.

If you remember, I received a house coat from a client. She had already taken it apart to make the lining, so I received the housecoat, the lining, sleeves, buttons, and a scarf. My job was to put it all together, while adding shape and details.

Here's what I did:

  • Added darts to the front and back of the coat and lining and added shape to side seams
  • Took out lining sleeves and sewed them back in (client had mistakenly sewn them inside out)
  • Added tie interfacing to sleeve heads of main sleeves and attached
  • Removed 4" from length 
  • Used the scarf to make cuff bands and a waistband
  • Drafted collar pattern with a timely tutorial from Rhonda Buss
  • Used excess hem fabric to make collar
  • Attached collar
  • Re-attached neck facing and used interfaced hem binding to face the center front closure
  • Added snaps and buttons to closure
  • Hand stitched lining to coat 

3" mock up collar - too tall!

2" mock up collar - just right!

Pattern for collar

I think this is my biggest refashion transformation so far and I had a lot of fun solving the various problems that came up during the process. And the lovely Rhonda Buss came to my rescue once again - I woke up the morning I needed to draft the collar and found that she had published the EXACT tutorial I needed the night before! How's that for serendipity?

Self-Drafted Dress

I blogged about the jacket from this outfit a few days ago, but in my typical long-wind-y-ness, I had to break the post in two to talk about the dress.

The dress is ridiculously easy to make: no closures, bias tape to face neckline, serged rolled hem, four darts, four pieces total (unless you don't have enough fabric and you have to cut the front and back bodice with a center seam, ahem). I copied a dress I wore a lot in my late 20's that I eventually gifted to my best friend who's been wearing it for the last 10 years. I borrowed the dress back and made her a new version for Christmas using my trusted Patternmaking for Perfect Fit book by Steffani Lincecum to make the pattern. I then made one for myself with some adjustments. When I tried the dress on to see if I wanted to make any fit changes, it felt way too baby-dollish for this mama.

And when I put on a belt, the belt sat about 1.5" lower than the waist on the dress.

So I took care of those lengths and got this dress:

I used a rayon challis and I love how cool and drapey it is. This will feel wonderful when the temperature is in the 90's this summer.

And for someone who wears a lot of pencil skirts, it's nice to be able to twirl every now and again!

The fabric was so lightweight that my test hem was a mess. I used a technique from Angela Wolf's Craftsy Creative Serging class (highly recommend) and pressed the hem under 1/2" so that I could serge a rolled hem through a double layer of fabric. This took care of the messy stitches. I just trimmed away the excess fabric carefully with sharp scissors.

I'll be looking for some cute rayon challis prints this summer to make a few more of these (they only take about 90 minutes to make now that I have the pattern) and I'd like to try the dress with a poplin, too. I think I've found this summer's go-to easy make, and it's not even summer yet!

Style Arc Marni Jacket Muslin

It is FINALLY warm enough (meaning just scraping 60 degrees F) to take photos outside again. I thought I'd seize the moment and get photos of my Style Arc Marni jacket that I just finished and a summer dress that I whipped up in a crazy moment in late December.

Let's start with the Style Arc Marni, shall we? This pattern was part of my Christmas riches Style Arc haul from the beginning of the year. I want to make the jacket up in the fabric you see here:

. . . but I wanted to make a muslin first to check the fit and to test my long sleeves (I've OD'd on 3/4 length sleeves this year, and I needed something different). I used a ponte knit from Hancock's that I know will likely eventually pill like her sisters did, but it seemed good enough for a muslin. And then I was so pleased with the result that I went back and finished the seams to make it a bit more finished.

Adjustments: I sewed the side seams with a 5/8" seam allowance instead of 3/8". I took an inch off the length of the bodice (this was a surprise to me since I usually have to add length, but I wanted it to hit at my natural waist). I lengthened the sleeves to full length and omitted the sleeves cuffs (not sure I'm a big fan of the cuff).

I struggled a bit with attaching the collar in the back/shoulder, but third time was the charm. I wasn't sure how I was supposed to attach the collar facing, so I borrowed the construction steps from my Jalie 2921 (more sausages!). I want my next version to be a bit more fitted, so I think I'll sew the princess seam with a 5/8" seam allowance and the side seams/sleeves with a 3/4 -1" seam allowance. I'll also add an inch to the peplum length, since I had to do a teeny-tiny hem on this one since I'd chopped off so much length in the bodice. I didn't do the button on this jacket as I wanted to wear it will a belt, but I think I might go back and add a snap or two so that it stays more in place. If you follow me on Facebook you know I found some lovely buttons at a resale shop recently and I'm sure one of them will be perfect! I like this pattern a lot and I can see making multiple versions of it since it can be casual or dressy. And did I mention cozy? The pattern calls for ponte knit or a stretch woven and this version is a soft (if pill-y) ponte.

I used the edge stitch foot and moved my needle to the left to do the topstitching along the princess seam and the collar. I bought this foot about a year ago and only just now put it to use. Dumb. This thing is fantastic for getting a straight line!

And now I've gone on too long - you'll have to come back in a few days to hear about the dress!

Four Befores and Two Afters

This month has become the month of refashioning projects. Maybe that's part of spring cleaning? Finding the things you can't get rid of but need some improvement to make them work? Not sure, but I've got a few fun things to work on this month.

My client Jen is one of the first people who contacted me about making a skirt for her. She has now lost weight (4 inches from her waistline - go, Jen!) and the skirt needed to be taken in at the waist and hips. This isn't a true refashioning project, but since it was fun to revisit a skirt I made early on in my sewing career, I wanted to include it. Boy, did I use tiny stitches at that point! They were a challenge to pick out! And this was before my serger, when I was still zig-zagging the seam allowances . . .

Skirt is a soft corduroy - I can't remember if I found it on Etsy or

The second refashion was for my client, Melissa. She's going to coach her daughter's softball team this summer, and since the league is used to only having male coaches, the coach shirts were huge!

I took 5.5" off the length, 3" off the sleeve, and added elastic to the waist and back for a bit more definition.

I completely understand where she was coming from on this. I HATE wearing boxy t-shirts, and I usually do something similar if I'm forced to wear one for some cause or campaign. Otherwise I spend the whole time I'm in the shirt trying to adjust the damn thing, feeling awkward and out-of-my skin.

I'm really excited about this next one. One of my client, Carrie, is really into vintage 70's fashion. I refashioned a couple of dresses for her a while back, and next up is a housecoat. Yep, you heard me correctly, she bought a vintage, shapeless housecoat!

Housecoat sans sleeves

Carrie had already attempted to remake the housecoat but needed help. She took apart the garment and used the pieces to cut a lining, sewed the lining and put the housecoat back together. I'll be shortening the length and using the excess to make a collar, attaching the lining (including taking out the sleeves and putting them back on correctly), adding darts, adding a belt and decorative strips to the sleeve cuffs. It's going to look fantastic when it's all done. Carrie is fun to work with and we have a great time bouncing ideas off one another. I can't wait to see what she asks for next!

Fabric detail

This scarf will become the belt and sleeve detail

Lining that Carrie made on her own.

And last up is a wedding dress refashion. Jamie wanted to use her mom's wedding dress, but it needs an update.

First, I'll remove the lace sleeves and most of the yoke. Then I'll add boning and straps to the bodice . . .

and a corset back with modesty panel (it's a tad small), using Mrs Mole's method. Jamie wants "Cubby Blue" ribbons for the corset lacing - I think she's a fan!

I've also got some non-refashioning projects going on this month (copying a client's skirt, some baptismal gown alterations) and I just finished two more wrap dresses which I hope to show you next week. I'm also wrestling with the Style Arc Marni jacket - I plan to coax that one into submission this weekend.

What interesting refashions have you done or dreamed about doing? I have dreams of someday giving the wedding dress from my first wedding (long story) a dye bath and refashion.