Monday, July 17, 2017

Teal Acton Dress

I had two events in June that I wanted to wear handmade outfits for: my graduation and a friend’s wedding. However, none of the dresses that I’ve made before will fit over my pregnant belly, and I didn’t want to spend my precious sewing time on a nice maternity dress that I will wear only twice. I looked through my patterns and chose two dresses that would fit with minimal alteration during pregnancy and still be usable in the future!

The first was one of my #2017make9, the Acton dress from In the Folds. I made a combination of the two views: the bodice from view A and the skirt from view B.

I cut a straight size C and made a toile of the bodice (actually I toiled the bodice from view B, but the adjustments transferred easily). The princess seams made fitting easy. I narrowed the back waist at the princess seam by ½ inch on each piece, flattened the bust curve at the front princess seam (a common adjustment for my A-cup-on-a-good-day), and took in the front princess seams above the bust by 3/8 inch on each piece.  I narrowed the back skirt piece to reflect the back waist of the bodice. 

For the final dress, I used a fairly heavy but loosely woven teal cotton blend from my stash (thrifted at some point in time). It raveled quite significantly! I used French seams except for Hong Kong binding along the back seam as suggested in the pattern, but the next time I sew with such a heavy fabric I will use Hong Kong seams throughout. There were a couple of points in the corners of the skirt that I had to do some creative resewing and actually use small pieces of fusible inferfacing to ensure stability.

I didn’t interface the zip seam as I normally would, given the thickness of the fabric. I was also unable to sew the straps and ties inside out and turn them, again due to fabric weight. I ran the fabric through my bias binder maker* and topstitched. The bodice was lined with the remnants of a quilting fat quarter (some creating piecing was required to line the whole bodice)!

Inside dress bodice
Because I had so much fabric left over (I still do!), I decided to make a jacket as well. I used a pattern that I have sewn before, McCall’s 5935.

My prior version fits well in the bodice (it was lengthed by 1 inch), but is a bit short in the sleeves (so I always wear them folded up!). This time I lengthened the sleeves by 2 inches. I also used a contrasting cotton lining for the bodice and cuffs and left the sleeves unlined (I used a thrifted pillowcase and didn’t have enough to line the sleeves). I learned my lesson with the dress and serged every piece before sewing together. The lining covers all the seams nicely on the inside.

Inside back jacket

Let me tell you, this fabric was not interested in becoming a semi-tailored jacket. It stretched itself all out of shape, except for the pieces that were interfacing, so of course nothing lined up. This was especially an issue in the shoulders, upper collar, and sleeves. There were some creative adjustments made, requiring a lot of pinning, trying on, re-pinning, basting, un-basting, and cursing. I ended up shortening the sleeves by 1 3/8 inches. I know at least some of that is the fabric, but I will change my sleeve lengthening adjustment to only 1 inch for the next time I make the pattern! I didn’t put in any buttons, because it won’t button up at this time. I will in the future when I can put it in the right place.

Despite these struggle (or perhaps because of them), I am very proud of the way the jacket turned out. It looks good with the dress, and is a color that I will wear with lots of other items. I think next time either underlining or using a lightweight fusible interfacing on each piece for stabilization would be the only way to avoid the issues I had. As I mentioned, I still have lots of this fabric left—perhaps I will make a matching skirt, now that I know all the its tricks!

My next post will review the other “non-maternity” maternity dress I made! I still have to take some pics (and by “I” I mean my husband).

Tuesday, June 20, 2017

Maternity sewing plans

Despite Lincoln's advice to not "swap horses in the middle of the stream," pregnancy has effectively halted my progress on #2017makenine. I will share my maternity sewing plans in this post, but first I wanted to note that I have completed several #2017makenine projects, which I will blog at some point:

Simplicity 2446 Amazing Fit jacket in black summer-weight wool suiting
Simplicity 2154 vintage suit shirt in black summer-weight wool suiting
- McCalls 3128 high-waisted pants in black summer-weight wool suiting
Sewaholic Hollyburn skirt in winter-weight gray/red woolen plaid 

4 out of 9 seems a pretty good start, but (except for the Acton dress) I won't be able to sew any more of my #2017makenine until the end of September. We will see how much time I find on maternity leave for sewing! I always have less time than I think I will.

I have some maternity clothes left from prior pregnancies, but I only saved those things that fit very well, which unfortunately included limited bottoms (only 1 pair of jeans, 1 pair of pants, and no skirts). So my plan had to include plenty of pants/skirts. I also needed more summer-weight tops, since my previous pregnancies were predominately in the winter. Finally, with limited time to sew, everything on the list either had to be a quick make or something that I could use when no longer pregnant! Here's what I came up with. 


My waistband pattern (drafted from RTW maternity jeans)
I have several old dress pants and jeans in my closet that are a little too big for me but still have plenty of wear left. I created a pattern for a maternity band, cut on the fold at the front and top, so the only visible seam is at the back and there is plenty of support. I bought several lengths of rayon jersey from via Amazon (heather gray, black (now only available in polyester jersey), and wheat), as well as some Lycra blends from S.R. Harris to use for my maternity bands. After cutting off the old waistband and shaping the top of the pants, the maternity waistbands are easy to sew into place. I am please with the fit, comfort, and simplicity of this solution! Here are the bottoms I've completed so far:

Black trousers

Gray trousers

Red jeans

Cropped khakis

I still have to modify some denim capris and a pair of shorts, which should be plenty. (I will be wearing a lot of yoga pants and gym shorts at home as well!)


For most of my pregnancy, I can wear skirts with elastic waistbands, some of which (the maxi length) can be pulled up over my tummy as time goes on, but I wanted some other options as well. I have a gray dress skirt that received the same treatment as the pants: 

Gray skirt

I also bought Simplicity 1359, a nice mix of 4 maternity patterns (OOP, but available on Amazon). I have a blue and white floral interlock knit from Jo-Ann Fabrics that I have made into a maternity maxi skirt. If I have enough of the navy Lycra blend, I will make a maternity mini skirt as well!

Maternity knit patterns

ITY knit fabric

S1359 maxi shirt (modified to a simple A line without gores)

Navy Lycra blend -- not this blue in real life!


I have several nice blouses, but wanted more summer options! Using view A from S1359 and more of the rayon jersey, I made a black and a gray tee. Rather than making fiddly ties for the sides, I just used elastic to add permanent ruching:

Black tee

Gray tee

Elastic ruching

I made two woven tops (to be worn both while pregnant and in the future), which I shared in this post: a modified Colette Sorbetto and McCall's 9542. I also refashioned one of my husband's old dress shirts to a maternity top:

I also made a maternity camisole in the wheat jersey, and will make another in the blue lycra if there is enough. I used Zoe's Cordelia camisole, available here, which fit beautifully. It's perfect for wearing under non-maternity jackets and cardigans for my air-conditioned workplace!



With a self-drafted jacket


Non-maternity cardigans will do nicely! I did have two maternity sweaters that I refashioned. I shortened the sleeves on a black and white stripe sweater with fold-over elastic:

Sorry, you can't actually see the sleeves here!

I dyed a khaki drape-neck sweater to a color I find more flattering and shortened the sleeves by shortening them into cuffs, folding over the cuffs, and serging:


In the Folds Acton dress

I have a nice maternity dress, but was able to make the In the Folds Acton dress (view B will fit a good way into pregnancy) in a teal cotton blend from my stash and McCall's 7530 in a interlock jersey knit from S.R. Harris.
Used view A

Overall, a pretty ambitious maternity sewing schedule! I think I've already made good progress, and I do have July off as I transition between jobs, so hope to finish up maternity sewing that month.

Thursday, May 4, 2017

Maternity Non-maternity Tops

As part of my maternity sewing plans, I made some woven tops that will fit for much of my summer pregnancy, and will still be wearable when I am no longer pregnant!

Inspired by Erica Bunker's version of McCall's 7542 and spurred on by McCall's Sewing Contest, I made view D of M7542 (trumpet sleeves, longer bodice):
The fabric is a printed cotton blend from a thrift store. It was originally a salmon pink, but I dyed it with some brown Rit dye and got a lovely dusky rose.

I lengthened the bodice by 1 inch, and could probably have used at least another 1/2 inch. I graded from a size 10 at the bust to 12 at the waist (usual for me in Big 4 patterns). The neck is finished with bias binding in a soft pink cotton (I'm not a huge fan of facings) as is the hem (to keep every centimeter of length). Rather than a hook and eye, I used a button and thread loop at the back of the neck. I set the sleeves in flat, then added the trumpet portion after sewing up the side/underarm seams. This shirt will definitely be worn when I am no longer pregnant, though I may take in the sides a bit.

Inside finishing
Working with the original free Sorbetto pattern from Collette (here's the new version, which I haven't tried), I lowered the neckline and underarm seams, omitted the front box pleat, and slashed/spread both the front and back bodice to create an A-line shape. Next time I will also lower the bust dart. I used a floral light-blue linen from Vogue Fabrics Outlet in Evanston, IL, which I bought last spring (not available online). I used French seams for a clean finish and self bias binding for the neck, arm, and hem finishing. I will certainly make this again!

Wrinkles from wearing all day!
Inside finishing

My next post will outline my entire pregnancy sewing plans!

Sunday, April 30, 2017

My #MMMay17 Pledge

I have a growing collection of me-made clothes, and generally do a fairly good job of working them into daily rotation. I'm excited to see if I can keep this Me Made May pledge (the brainchild of the inspirational Zoe):

"I, Michelle of "House of White" blog and @mdelilahcarlson, sign up as a participant of Me-Made-May '17. I will endeavor to wear at least 1 item of me-made clothing at least 4 days of each work week, and to document my outfits each week."

Friday, April 28, 2017

Testing the Anza Jumpsuit

I was very lucky to be able to test the Anza Jumpsuit by Itch to Stitch. This was my first experience testing, and it was quite fun to see the pattern "first" and see my feedback incorporated into the final product! Kennis was a joy to test for, and it was fun to see the inspiration of everyone else's makes coming together on the Facebook testing page. I am very pleased with the final result of my make, but I have definitely been inspired to plan another jumpsuit version and a dress version as well!

Love the pockets!
Things I particularly like about the PDF are the "layers" feature, the tile layout on page 7, the table listing tiles for specific views to save paper (page 6), and the complete body and finished garment measurements on pages 3 and 4. I always like to calculate the designer's ease to compare it to my own preferences, and often adjust this. However, as I was testing I cut the recommended sizes for my measurements, and I find the amount of ease perfect. I cut a 2 at the bust and a 4 at the waist/hips (the size at the hips must be followed at the waist as well to ensure that the jumpsuit will fit over the hips!). I lengthened at the bodice by 3/4 inches and at the legs by 1 inch, but I ended up not needed the extra inch in the legs. I did make a thin thigh adjustment, shaving about 3/8 inch off the inside of each thigh (taking it off the outside affects the fit in the hips instead).

Pleased with fit in the rear.
The instructions were very clear and beautifully illustrated with diagrams, which I prefer to pictures. I used a cotton blend from my stash, with colors and a pattern I love. I cut the waistband and the pockets on the bias for contrast. The only other deviations from the pattern were to leave off the pocket buttons because I didn't have enough buttons and to omit the elastic at the cuffs. This was because I made a poor fabric choice, and selected a fabric with insufficient drape (despite Kennis's clear instructions!), making my jumpsuit legs look like pirate pants when gathered with elastic. I should have taken pictures so you could have a good laugh--you'll just have to take my word for it. I will definitely be making a jumpsuit in a drapier fabric in the future, since I love the way everyone else's gathered legs look!

I especially love the cut-on cuffed sleeves.
I hope to be able to test again for Kennis (and for others as well!). I really enjoyed the experience, and ended up with a lovely garment from a pattern that I might have been afraid to try otherwise. I am now totally into the whole jumpsuit thing!

Baby bump
I am now almost 20 weeks pregnant, so my sewing plans for the year have been somewhat interrupted! I have not been blogging, but I have been doing quite a bit of sewing, and even got some of my #2017makenine makes done before my tummy intervened! Now I have a whole new ambitious set of maternity sewing plans--I will try to share those soon.

Monday, January 9, 2017


I've been really inspired by everyone's #2017makenine's on Instagram! I like the idea of focusing my next year of sewing around a few patterns that I know will fill gaps in my wardrobe. Some of them will also challenge me to improve my sewing skills! Of course, other makes will find their way into my queue when I'm inspired by a pattern or fabric or event, but I'd like to prioritize these makes given my limited sewing time. Here they are:

As you can see, I have included a mix of Indie and Big 4 patterns. Many of the patterns have been highly reviewed on blogs I trust, but some have simply been pulled from my pattern library. From top left, they are:

(1) Butterick 5526 button-up collared shirt: Inspired by the amazing Lauren and her collection of B5526's. I'd like to have a go-to tailored shirt pattern. I want to make this in a navy blue polka dot fabric as well as a turquoise plaid.

(2) Simplicity 2446 Amazing Fit jacket: I want to make a jacket, pants, and skirt in matching black wool suiting from Vogue Fabrics. Perfect for mixing and matching for professional talks/interviews/etc.

(3) True Bias Ogden cami: I've seen so many beautiful versions in the blogosphere! I have at least 2 versions planned, one in navy blue flowered rayon and one in brown rayon.

(4) Simplicity 2154 vintage suit: This will provide the pencil skirt for the black suit. I selected the pattern after snooping around Scruffy Badger's blog. I may also use the jacket pattern for a black Chanel-inspired jacket. And maybe that bow blouse...

(5) In the Folds Acton dress: Not sure which fabric I will end up using! Fleurine, Helen, and Caroline each used a different fabric, and all are beautiful.  

(6) McCalls 5400 two-piece bathing suit: One of my New Year's resolutions is to learn how to sew swimwear! I was looking for a two-piece with simple style lines, and Rachel's post convinced me this pattern is worth trying.

(7) Sewaholic Hollyburn skirt: I have a lovely gray woolen plaid in my stash (I have no idea where I got it) that will be perfect for a long winter version of this skirt.

(8) McCalls 3128 high-waisted pants: I found this 1970s vintage pattern on Ebay. Excited to see how these turn out as part of my suit.

(9) Closet Case Ginger skinny jeans: Another one of my goals for the year is to learn how to sew jeans! I got Heather's Sewing Your Own Jeans Ebook to go with her pattern.

Looking forward to a more focused year of sewing, with some new techniques and new wardrobe basics by the end of 2017!

Thursday, January 5, 2017

Frocktober No. 1

Inspired by Froctober on The Monthly Stitch, I made two dresses on my Fall 2016 Makes wish list. The first is Vogue 8766, view D. Vogue describes it as a lined dress with a fitted, sleeveless, underlined bodice, French darts, and a scooped neckline.

You can see the style lines well in this drawing:
I used a cotton fabric purchased at The 15th Annual World's Largest Textile Garage Sale. The dates for 2017 are already on my calendar! This is an awesome awesome event. The fabric feels like a quilting cotton, so a bit thin for a fall dress. However, the bodice is underlined, which adds to the warmth (not to mention decreasing wrinkling, with the heavy cotton blend that I chose to use). I intend to wear this dress with sweaters, cardigans, and tights for the next few months. The rich jewel tones are so cozy for a fall/winter wardrobe! 

I used size 6 at the bust grading to 10 at the waist and hips. I thought I could get away without a toile, but this was a poor decision. I had to use a 3/4 inch seam allowance at the bust and 3/8 inch seam allowance at the waist! The bodice was also too short, so I added a waistband cut on the bias (to avoid pattern matching and because it looked awesome). Lesson learned: a toile of the bodice for a new pattern is always indicated! (Although I really like the waistband, so I'm kind of glad I made this mistake.) I added some tucks on the front of the bodice--I think it gives it a vintage feel:

Since this was intended to be winter appropriate, I had originally planned to make view F, with the 3/4 length sleeves. However, the bodice for both sleeved and sleeveless versions was the same, so, not surprisingly, I did not have enough ease to move my arms easily! Here it is on my old dressform, Ms. Blueberry, before I took the arms off the dress:

I wanted a clean, demi-couture finish on the inside, so I turned the seam allowances under and hand-stitched them to the underlining. I don't know if there is a special name for this technique! The neckline and armholes were finished with bias binding made from the fashion fabric. The waistband is interfaced with a lightweight fusible interfacing (Pro-Woven Light Crisp Fusible Interfacing) as well as a stiff interfacing (Pro-Woven Super Crisp Fusible Interfacing), then hand-sewed on the waistband lining after ironing under the seam allowances (per the "Couture Waistband" instructions in The Dressmaker's Techniques Bible). 

I used a dark red invisible zipper purchased from Joann Fabrics. So proud of my pattern matching at the back!


The lining for the skirt was Ambiance Bemberg rayon in Cardinal. I chose the color based on my Vogue Fabrics swatch card, but was able to find the right color at Joann Fabrics and avoid the cost of shipping (my local Joann's is hit or miss in their color supply for Ambiance). The lining was hemmed by machine, but I used lace hem tape for the skirt and made a 1.5 inch hem by hand, rather than the narrow hem recommended in the pattern. I know some people find lace hem tape to be "Becky Homecky", but I love it! It reminds me of homemade dresses and skirts I had as a child. There was a disaster when I was trimming off the extra hem after sewing on the hem tape. I make a large cut several inches above the fold of the hem! I was not about to make the dress any shorter. I used Pro-Sheer Elegance Light Fusible Interfacing to hold the cut together from the inside and applied Fray Check to avoid any loose threads from the outside. The repair is pretty subtle (especially down at the hem) and I'm hoping it will continue to look good after washing!

Here it is from the side:

And with a sweater, as it's being worn in the winter! I think it's probably easier to layer without those 3/4 length sleeves. (I really do have legs--the navy blue tights are just blending into the dark floor!)

I'm happy with this dress--a nice project to follow the failure of my denim Ginger skirt! Next up, my #2017make9, then another dress from Frocktober (I am a couple months behind in posts!)