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

Comfort Sewing: Something Easy, Something Magenta

After the Elisalex finale, I needed something easy to make this weekend. I returned to a TNT, a deep cowl neck top hacked from Silhouette Pattern #195. If you want to hack something similar, please see my tutorial on how to draft a deep cowl neck. It's easier than you think!

The pattern piece for this top is one of those odd shapes that you get after some liberal slashing and spreading. I lengthened my original top by 1 inch, did a bit of shaping in the armsyche, and cut it with only a 3/8" facing (not the 3" shown in the original pattern piece).

I also cut an inner lining/facing that stops 4 inches under the arm.

I didn't have enough fabric to make the facing from the same fabric, so instead I used a scrap of magenta jersey left over from this dress and this top.

So I get a peek of magenta showing around the neckline on this super soft jersey from Gorgeous Fabrics (and BTW, I know I go on and on about how much I like the fabric at GF. I should mention that I'm not sponsored by GF nor I am affiliated with them in any way - I just love Ann's eye for fabric). This color combo is now out of stock, but there's still a blue version, which I also almost nearly purchased.

This was a great project for a lazy Memorial Day weekend!


Next up is a dress hack of this hack. If all goes well, it will also be reversible!

Elisalex Dress: The Details

This dress turned into a battle of wills. If I hadn't liked the fabric so much (purchased from the Etsy Shop FabricsAndTrimmings last summer), I might have waved the white flag and moved on months ago. Most of the problems were self-inflicted: poor choice of underlining, and not recognizing early enough that the skirt design just didn't suit my body. Once I ripped out the former and abandoned the latter, the dress came together pretty easily.

I probably can't remember all of the changes I made along the way, but I know that the following happened:
  • 1/2" sloped shoulder adjustment
  • took in the top of the princess seam
  • increased SA on sleeves to 1"
  • lengthened the bodice by 1.25"
  • reduced the side seam SA to 3/8"
  • used my TNT pencil skirt (drafted from Studio Faro's worksheet) for the skirt

I used some of the skills I learned from Susan Khalje's Couture Dress class on Craftsy for the construction:
  • traced the stitch lines and hand basted or pin basted the seams before sewing
  • made the piping from silk muslin and 1/8" cotton cord
  • stabilized the neck and back with silk organza selvedge
  • lined the bodice with stretch cotton poplin, attached by hand with fell stitches
  • bound the seam allowance in the skirt with Snug Hug using Laura Mae's tutorial
  • used stretch lace on the hem allowance (and sewed up with a catch stitch)
  • added drapery weight to the back vent to stop the corners from curling

The zipper was the last battle ground for the dress. All told, I think I handpicked a lapped zipper three times and a centered zipper four times. And every time it looked terrible. I've had success with lapped zippers in the past, so I'm going to say that the problems were due to the stretch in the fabric. In the end, I threw in an invisible zipper and I'm quite sure I won't lose any sleep over this. 

I'm glad the fabric didn't become a casualty of the war. And that I only suffered minor injuries (pricked fingers, one ding from the sewing machine). And that my medal of honor has green flowers on a lilac background!

If you want to read through the early battles, you can find them here, here and here, and my victory dance is here. And now I'm going to make something EASY with jersey fabric.

Under the Wire

Whew, there are two contests I wanted to enter this dress in and I just got it done just in time - then almost didn't have time to do a post so that I could enter them!

I'll do a longer follow up about the final stages tomorrow, but WAH-LA! It is finally finished!

Can you tell I am just a little bit excited?

And it was worth it in the end, as I LOVE my Elisalex dress and plan to wear it as much as possible all summer long.

I love the print, the piping (oh, can't see it? Here it is again) . . .

And the shoes!

I ordered these from ebay and they were delivered one minute after I stopped taking photographs because it started to rain. Yeesh. I'll get more pictures this weekend of the innards and the dress with the shoes.

Thanks for cheering me along as I tackled this dress!

The Return of the Elisalex . . . Or the dress that almost wasn't

Some of you may remember that I wrestled mightily with the Elisalex last fall, before finally putting it away because I couldn't stand the sight of it anymore. To date, this was been my only UFO, and it's been niggling me. Now that Spring really has made it to my part of the world in all it's blossomy glory, I decided it was time to give my own floral goodness another try.

If you'd like to recap, I wrote about the dress here and here. The main problems were, 1) the underlining I used (silk organza cut on the bias for stretch) and the stretch cotton sateen fashion fabric, were doing their own kind of wrestling beneath the surface; and 2) the original skirt design just did not work for my body no matter how much I messed with it. Want proof? Here it is:


Fighting Fabrics

I've been taking it slow this time around, so as not to get into rush mode where I just finish it no matter what. Here are the steps I've taken so far:

  • Took apart all of the seams and removed all of the underlining. 
  • Sewed the bodice back together as it was.
  • Used my TNT pencil skirt pattern to cut a new skirt from the old one, shifted the darts to match with the bodice, and sewed this up.
  • I added the piping back at the waist, sewed the skirt to the bodice, and basted in the zipper.

At this point, I almost sunk into despair because while it came together just fine, I didn't like it. I didn't like it on the form, I didn't like it on my body. It wasn't matching up to the vision I've carried in my head all these months. I decided to try one more thing and sewed in the sleeves. Trumpets! Angels! Blazing light! the whole dress was transformed for me. Somehow, the sleeves created the necessary balance.

I've got more work to do, like fixing the sleeves (somehow, one sleeve ended up bigger than the other with all my fussing around - luckily, I like the smaller sleeve), re-sewing zipper, lining the bodice and all the finishing work. But I now actually believe that this will be a dress I can wear by June at the latest.

I also learned that my lucky find dress form (purchased from a costume designer in Chicago last fall) is a pretty good match for me, except she has a flatter butt, probably because she doesn't come out running with me.

How about you? Do you have any UFO's that have come out of hiding recently?