Black & White Linen Dress

This summer I've been remaking many garments that I made last year when I first started sewing my own clothes.  I picked up easy sewing patterns from the "Learning To Sew" series that Simplicity has, like this Simplicity 2147 dress.  Many of these pieces that I sewed needed major tweaks and I learned something new about sewing with each one. 

This first time I sewed this was view C, the 3/4 sleeves tunic.  I remember that I used a silky floral type fabric that I picked up from the clearance table at Joann's.  It was the first time I tried sewing pleats and also sewing bias tape to a neck line.  Needless to say, that top was donated to Goodwill as it was too big, the wrong fabric, and had a wonky neckline.

A couple of weeks ago, I saw this dress made with eyelet and wanted to do something similar.  Unfortunately Joann's did not have an eyelet fabric that I loved, however I ended up finding this beautiful linen/rayon blend fabric.  It has a really pretty black floral print that, to me, has kind of a vintage/boho feel.

This time around, I loved sewing this dress.  The fabric choice was perfect, the neck binding looks awesome and the fit it great.  I sewed up view B in size 12.  I added an inch on the length of the dress, as this is labeled a "mini dress" but this is how mini I'll get.  I hemmed only 1/4 inch on the bottom.  I did not make a belt since I love the dress without it.  I really like the shift dress style of this garment with something as simple as pleats to add a little interest.  


Coral Pleated Top

This top has been sitting in my closet for the last month or so, waiting to be shared with the world.  It's a summer version of the pleated tunic I made last winter.  I was so frustrated by the knit rayon that I used with the tunic that I just had to make it again with a woven fabric.  I was hoping and praying that I wouldn't run into the same problems that I had before.  Well lucky me, this top turned out great!  It was much easier sewing with the woven rayon that I chose.  YAY!

This pattern is Very Easy Vogue 8977, view A.  I cut out size small.  I ordered this fabric online at Fabrics.com.  Of course buying fabric online is challenging so when it arrived the color was a bit more pink than what I had in mind and the fabric is very light weight.  I was worried the fabric would be too shear, but thankfully it's not and works perfectly for hot weather.  The buttons on the back are from Joann's.

I did not make any alterations to the pattern.  Sewing the facing to the neck line was the most challenging.  However, with the woven fabric I didn't struggle with the fabric stretching all over the place as I sewed.  There are a couple of tiny puckers but nothing that a good ironing couldn't fix.  Speaking of ironing, looks like the back could use a little.

I love this style of this top for the summer.  It's a bit elegant, a bit classic and a hint of sexy with the opening in the back.  Coral and white are a great summer combo.  I like to pair it with boho pieces like these caramel colored block heels and hoop earrings.


Navajo Jumpsuit

Well it's been a minute since I've posted a new make, but I have a great excuse!  I was traveling, relaxing, and just taking whatever time I needed to complete some new projects.  Here I have a jumpsuit that I made about a month ago.  I found this Simplicity "It's So Easy It's Simplicity" pattern at Walmart a couple of months back.  It was a great price and I loved the design of the pant jumpsuit.  I had also been wanting to making another one piece since my last one I made about a year ago (see my previous post).  The fabric was purchased at Joann's, I found it along side other ethnic/summery type fabrics.  The fabric is a lightweight cotton and has good shape for this garment.

I decided to cut size 12.  I didn't attempt to grade between two different pattern sizes since there wasn't a finished measurement for the hips.  I guess I got lucky because the jumpsuit fits me perfectly. I did take off quite a few inches from the bottom hem because I wanted the pants to hit right above my ankles, which I thought would look nice with sandals.

I haven't found this pattern being sold anywhere online so I am posting a picture of the packaging.  I think "It's So Easy It's Simplicity" is sold exclusively at Walmart.  Now, as to why Simplicity would package this as "easy" is beyond me.  For me, as an advanced beginner, the bodice was a bit of a challenge to put together.  I had to sew then use my seam ripper about 3 or 4 times to get the shoulder straps right.  Other than that the pattern was straight forward.  I was surprised (and thankful) how simple it was to sew the bodice and pants together plus creating the button holes in the front where the waist tie would go.

Anyway, I finished it but it took me a bit longer than I thought to complete it.  I have already worn this out dinner when my hubbie and I celebrated our 10 wedding anniversary going out to dinner.


From the Vault: Floral Romper

One of my very first garment sewing projects is this Simplicity 1158 inspired by Project Runway.  This pattern was one of the selections from the former Stitch Lab class "Pick A Pattern."  This was a fantastic class, where we picked a pattern to sew and had a lot of one-on-one help by the teacher (there were only four of us in the class).  This was my first time sewing techniques like adding facing, pattern grading, under stitching and more.

Many modifications were made with the help of the teacher.  This is view A with shorts.  I cut a size  4 for the top and a size 10 for the bottom.  The teacher also helped to make adjustments to the bottom so there was extra room in the inseam and bootie area.  I can't even explain how she began to do this, but it was cool to watch these kinds of pattern modifications being made in person.  The fabric was purchased at Hancock Fabrics, it's a rayon.  I love the floral print with the black background.

Now that I have more sewing experience and a little knowledge about my sizing with sewing patterns, I think I would be able to sew this with the pattern as is.  Perhaps grading down from one size on the top and another on the bottom.  I loved sewing this with the help of a teacher and I definitely think I could do this on my own now.  I also love how this romper turned out and am exited to wear it more this summer.  I'm going to make another new Simplicity shorts romper soon so we'll see how this goes on my own. 

Are you all liking the romper/jumpsuit trend?


Ruffle Top + Tips For Sewing Knit Fabric

 A couple of weeks ago I was browsing the fabric section at my local Walmart.  I knew they had basic sewing tools and fabric, but totally forgot that they sold sewing patterns as well.  Right then I decided I would give my self a little challenge of making a couple of garments from items that I found at "Wally World."  This top is my first completed challenge.  I found this cute Simplicity 8337 knit top pattern that was recently released.  I have been eyeing it for a little while and was glad to find it here.  The fabric is a Walmart find as well.  It's a slinky turquoise lightweight knit fabric.  I love the color and thought that View A would be perfect for that ruffled neck line.

I cut out size Small and glad that I did.  The arm holes fit perfectly and the neckline doesn't go too far down.  I also ended up taking off about an inch and a half from the bottom hem.  As for how this garment was put together, I think there were a bit too many steps than it really needed.  I had never used bias tape with knit fabric before, so I used a stretch stitch for that.  I feel that the arm holes and binding could be simply sewed together with a serger (if you have one and experience doing that).  I also finished the bottom hem with a double needle, I feel this gives a more clean and professional look.

Over all I'm pretty happy how this top turned out.  I hope to get some wear out of it with our upcoming hot summer.  It'll be nice and easy  paired with shorts and sandals.  The knit fabric I wasn't very fond of working with.  It was just to slinky and slippery.  I ended up accidentally cutting a small hole in the front of the top while trimming the arm hole seams (*ugh*).  I think next time I'll use a knit that has a little more weight to it, and I will definitely break out my trusty serger.  I give this pattern a 3.5 out of 5 stars.

And speaking of knit fabric, I wanted to share my go to tips for sewing with knit fabrics.  I've been sewing with knits for a while now and these are what I always keep in mind when I'm sewing with knits:

Always Use A Stretch Stitch:  I know there are many patterns that say to use a zigzag stitch with knits, but honestly a stretch stitch is the way to go for a sturdy and stretchable stitch.  This stitch is usually indicated on your sewing machine with 3 vertical dotted lines and/or SS on your stitch dial.

Know How Much Stretch Your Fabric Has:  I have made the mistake of over estimating and under estimating the stretch of my fabric to which my project has come out weird, wonky and didn't fit right.  Many pattern packaging has a chart to determine the amount of stretch is needed for that pattern (usually where the sizing is).  Use this!!  Or here's a nifty article I found that talks about it as well.

Always Use A Jersey Needle:  Yes you must use this special needle for your sewing machine.  It's the perfect sharpness to pierce that knit fabric.  These are always available to buy at Walmart or any fabric/craft store.

Finish Hems With A Double Needle:  Most sewing machines come with one.  And I learned how to use mine by reading my sewing machine manual (huh?! what?! She reads the manual?!?!)  It's so easy to use, it stretches with your fabric, and makes your garment look super nice.  Do it!  (PS - with some knits you may also need to use a walking foot).

What are your tips for sewing knit fabric?


Chambray Lace Front Dress

I have a new goal for the summer to try patterns again that I have made before.  I hope to become a little more adventurous when it comes to making minor tweaks to sewing patterns.  I really would like learn more about getting a better fit plus I like to experiment with different fabrics.  This cute chambray dress was made with New Look 6448, View B.  I made the maxi dress version here a couple of months ago, and loved how it turned out.  For this dress I thought I would do a chambray version in the shorter dress because I love how it looked on the pattern packaging.  Plus I have been seeing chambray dresses for the upcoming summer season and I have been wanting to sew with chambray.

The chambray fabric that I used is from Fabric.com.  The leather lace tie and brass grommets are from Joann's.  I also used denim thread for this project.

When I was sewing the maxi dress I was on the fence about cutting the bodice one size bigger (I cut a size 10 for both dresses).  I originally liked how the maxi was fitted on the top and then flared out. The first dress was little snug getting on but once my arms were through and the lace was tied up I liked the fit.  Since the chambray fabric is a little more stiff than the rayon its a even more snug getting on, and I realized that this fabric doesn't have any give like the rayon.

So I should have gone with my instinct and sized up to 12 in the bodice.  But hey!  This is why I love sewing and continue to do it.  I learn from each project and especially learn a lot about fabric and sizing.  I have dabbled in mixing one size for the top and another for the bottom for dresses.  I am still not completely comfortable doing this, but I am realizing that it's usually necessary.  I will be back with some more repeats and share some clothes that I made last summer. 


From the Archives: White Boat Neck Blouse

Now that the weather is getting warmer, I have been taking out some of my first garments that I made last year.  One that was super easy to put together is this Simplicity 1364 Vintage Jiffy Pattern.  I remember loving that it was a vintage pattern and how the packaging advertises that the top is made with just 3 pattern pieces.  How easy is that?  The stye of this top works with today's trends: white, vintage, and embroidered fabric (see below).  When making this top, I learned how to apply facing to the neck and armholes.  I made sure that I took my time putting on the facing.  I cut size 14 out in View C.  These days I don't cut that big of a size, however in this case the sizing happened to work out well.  The length of the top is perfect and I have plenty of room in the arm holes to move (but not showing my bra).  I may be able to get away with cutting out size 12 if I make this blouse again.  Last year I bought a pretty Gertie swiss dot fabric that I think would be cute.

As for the fabric I used for this top, I found it a Joann's in the eyelet section.  To me, it doesn't really look like an eyelet but instead has as beautiful embroidered hibiscus floral pattern.  Since I'm still learning about photography, I couldn't capture the fabric is the light I was shooting in so here is a close up to get a better idea of the print (newbie photographer problems - ugh!). 

I remember liking this pattern and looking forward to wearing it the following summer.  And yes I am!  This is a great pattern for beginners sewing with woven fabric, inserting neck and armhole facing as well as inserting a zipper.  By the way, I LOVE that the top has a long zipper in the back! Don't you dare leave that out! 


Two Pretty Isla Dress

I'm getting my summer wardrobe ready for the upcoming intense Texas heat!  I'm excited to make cute little dresses that I hope to wear rather than shorts and a t-shirt.  I found this adorable Isla pattern from Made By Rae (I've blogged about MBR before here) and just love the shape and ease of it.  It has cute capped sleeves, fitted bodice and gathers at the waist.  The Isla pattern can also be made as a shirt but I decided to make two dresses.  For both dresses I used fabric purchased from Girl Charlee and both are cotton jersey knit.  Both fabrics do not have too much stretch which was something that I had overlooked.  I ended up making an adjustment the second time I made this dress.

The first dress I made is in this pretty turquoise and floral fabric, I cut size Medium.  As I started making the dress and trying on the bodice, I realized my fabric didn't have enough stretch.  The bodice felt a bit more snug than what I'm used too.  The arm holes also seemed just a bit small too.  I also felt that the waist line could have been a little lower as well.  The directions on the pattern say you can lower the waist an inch for longer torsos but I don't think my torso is that long.  I cut the pattern as is it.  I was pretty happy with the result but wanted to see how it would fit with the bodice being a little bit bigger.

The second dress I made is in this fun yellow print.  I cut out a size Large for the bodice and left the skirt part as a Medium.  I think this adjustment worked out better for the little stretch of my fabric.  So lesson learned!  Pay attention to how much stretch the pattern calls for!!

Anyway, I really love this pattern.  I think this dress is perfect for warmer weather in a light weight knit fabric.  The pattern directions were every easy to follow and I recommend this for beginning sewing students.


Step Hem Denim Trend

Have you seen this step hem trend around on denim jeans?  It's jeans that are cut off with the back leg hem about an inch or so longer.  In general, I love the distressed denim trend that's been around so I really like this different take on the distressed look.  I was reading my favorite style/sewing blogger Merrick's Art recently and when I saw she had a tutorial of the step hem, I just had to give it a try. 

While I was my local favorite thrift store, I found my favorite brand of jeans (Levi's) in a straight leg and mid rise waist.  Perfect to try out the stem hem!  The tutorial was easy to follow and took no time at all.  I cut about 6 inches off of the hem since the jeans were quite long.  I also used my seam ripper to give the jeans fraying a head start before I tossed them in the washing machine.  I'm happy with how they turned out.  Have you tried distressing a pair of your own jeans yet?


Red & Denim Ruby Dress

Recently I discovered the sewing blogger Made By Rae who is not only is super knowledgeable in garment sewing, but sews up super cute kids clothes AND makes her own patterns.  Not to mention, I love her cute and quirky style.  I immediately loved her garment patterns too so I purchased a couple as well as some cute fabrics (see my previous post here) that I think will go so well.

My first Made By Rae pattern that I tired is the Ruby pattern.  It's very simple yet stylish and can be customized in so many ways.  I decided to make the Ruby dress with the yoke being a light weight denim (with a faint diamond design on it) and the dress part in a reddish-coral light weight rayon.  I have a goal to make many easy everyday dresses for our upcoming steamy, hot Texas summer.  I think the fabric will fit the bill to keep me cool plus I will be able to style this dress down with sandals or sass it up with wedges.

The pattern itself was very easy to follow.  I cut size Medium which fit accurately for me.  The arm holes are a smidgen small but I'd rather have that than arm holes that are too big.  I want make the Ruby top version as well but I haven't found the right fabric yet.  But I'm thinking an eyelet for the yoke. Ah, the quest of the right fabric! ;)


Spring Fabric Haul

March is flying by!  I can't believe we're already more than half way through the month.  It's been a busy last couple of weeks with spring break, taking care of kids and project planning.  I'm excited to share my latest fabric haul and surprisingly, everything has been purchased online.  This is the first time I'm jumping in feet first with shopping online for fabric.  Now that I've had some experience with different types of fabrics I'm starting to learn which ones I like to work with.

Since I mainly sew ready to wear garments, I really like working with knits and challis.  Both have great drape, soft to the touch and perfect for everyday wear garments.  After some online fabric store research I learned about an awesome shop for knit fabric called Girl Charlee.  They really have a great selection of fabric with beautiful prints and various types of knits. 

I love bright colors for warm weather, plus they go well with my skin tone.  I bought the yellow knit and the turquoise floral knit from Girl Charlee.  I plan to make simple summer dresses with these.  The fuchsia floral print is a challis that I found on Etsy.  I'm planning to make this Very Easy Vogue long sleeve dress with it.

I also found these amazing ethnic prints from Girl Charlee when they were running a sale on them.  The black print I'm planning to make a summer romper and the white diamond print I'm still thinking about what to do but possibly a maxi skirt or a halter dress. 

I'm hoping these fabrics work out with all of my upcoming sewing projects.  I'll be back to report on that.  What are some of your favorite online fabric stores?


Lace Up Front Maxi Dress

I have finally finished this gorgeous maxi dress just in time for spring!  I'm loving the current lace up trend so when I saw this New Look 6448 pattern displayed at Joann's I had to make it.  The fabric was also found at Joann's.  It's some kind of rayon challis with an abstract floral print, it's really pretty with a nice drape.  I purchased small gold eyelets for the lace up part along with a simple woven cord in black.

Now on to the pattern!  I sewed up View A, size 10.  Even though the pattern packaging says "easy" I still got stuck in the step of putting the front band together.  And wouldn't you know it,  I called up the Simplicity help line and spoke to someone right away.  My stumped step was so simple and just a confusion on my part of not knowing which was the band and the facing.  Probably a sewing rookie mistake.  Anyway, I had a moment of clarity after talking to Simplicity about it.  I finished that band right up and kept chugging along.

This was also the first time I inserted eyelets to a garment.  I got some ideas on YouTube on how to install them correctly plus practiced a lot on scrap fabric with the same fabric layering as the front band.

I'm really happy how the dress turned out.  I love it so much I'm definitely going to be making View B in a chambray.  Can't wait!  Stay tuned!!


Help! I'm Stuck In A Sewing Pattern!

I have been sewing clothing from patterns for about a year now and looking back I think I've come quite a ways.  One thing that I've done to help me through my sewing journey is I have always stuck with fairly easy patterns.  I can get easily overwhelmed and confused in a sewing pattern so I try not to get in over my head with complicated patterns/designs. The other thing that has helped my sewing is I have taken a few sewing classes.  I am a kinesthetic learner so the sewing classes are perfect because it's hands-on learning plus someone is there to answer all of my questions (and I've always got a lot of them).  Even though I have had some education and stick to easy designs, I still mange to occasionally get stuck in a pattern step.  I would like to share a few ways how I've gotten "un-stuck" and continue to truck along in my sewing project so I can complete it and feel accomplished.

Researching The Internet 
There is so much information and tutorials on YouTube.  Anytime I don't understand a certain sewing technique, like a specific stitch (ie catch stitch) I can usually find a quick video tutorial on the internet. 

Online Sewing Community
I like to search on sewing communities (like PatternReview.com) to find other seamstresses that have completed the pattern that I'm having trouble with.  These types on online communities can help with sizing, fabric choices, and what adjustments have been made.  Many seamstresses have blog as well where they delve in deeper with their thoughts and suggestions of a sewing pattern.

Contacting The Pattern Company
Did you know you can contact most sewing pattern companies if you have any questions about a pattern?  This has actually come in very handy for me.  A couple of times I have had the silliest questions but after I talk about with someone I quickly have an "A-ha!" moment. 

Take A Break
Sometimes you are so in the zone with you're sewing project and sometimes you're not all there.  You get tired, hungry, or just a bit bored (like hemming...ugh!).  Whenever I'm at a point of frustration, tired, or unfocused, it's time to stop and just put it away.  It's good to take a break, get some rest, and come back to your project refreshed.  Sometimes I need to just sleep on it and I will have a moment of clarity over the a simple little step that I was just reading too much in to.

I hope my suggestions are helpful to beginning sewing students.  How do you get through a difficult part of a sewing pattern?


Thrift & Vintage Treasures

One I love doing is visiting thrift and vintage stores.  Austin has so many great thrift stores that are jam packed with people's "trash" and I love going through them to find myself a treasure.  Here are few my favorites that I've found over the last weeks.

This distressed Gap denim vest was found at Saver's.  It was $6 and the fit is just right.  I think someone just cut the arm sleeves off of a denim jacket so the frayed ends are perfect for me.  The basket I found at Thrift Town for less than $1.  I love buying plants and finding baskets to put them.  The gold shell belt I found on Etsy.  Etsy is truly amazing to find unique vintage items.  I had been on a quest to find a gold belt like this for a while.  Many thrift stores that I looked in didn't have what I wanted, but when I searched Etsy, there were lots of choices and lots of price points.  Can't wait to rock this belt!  Where do you all like to find vintage stuff?