Thursday, August 3, 2017

Classy Camo Dress

This is the second “non-maternity” maternity dress that I made to wear in June. I wore my teal Acton dress to my friend’s wedding and the dress in today’s post to my (very last ever!) graduation. I found this lovely fabric at a visit to SR Harris this spring—it just screamed summer dress to me:

Interlock knit from SR Harris

I chose a knit dress pattern from my stash that was closest to an empire waist: McCall’s 7350 view A. I shortened the bodice by 1 ½ inches and the midriff by 1 inch to give my tummy some room, which worked out well.

McCall's 7350
I should have known something wasn’t right when sizing the pattern. I always compare finished pattern measurements to the body sizing, and this dress had 2 ½ inches of ease in the bust. This seemed a bit much, so I sized down for only 1 inch of ease at the bust. I decided not to toile the bodice, which was a mistake! I did baste each seam by machine and check the fit before serging with a 4-thread overlock stitch. However, when the outer shell of the bodice fit well, I assumed that when the inner and outer layers were joined the fit would also be good. This was not the case. I think the neck got stretched out when I understitched the inner shell. This was per the instructions, and I did use a stretch stitch, but should I have understitched a knit? It felt wrong. 

Neck pleats -- impossible to see in this fabric!
I wadded the bodice up and threw it in the trash. Then 15 minutes later I pulled in out and started fitting on my dressform (which still makes me gloriously happy—it actually is my size!). I took 1½ inches out at the back waist tapering to 1¼ inches at the back neck. I added 6 pleats, each ¾ inch deep, to the front bodice neck. I was finally pleased with the fit—actually I like the pleats on the bodice quite a bit.

From there, things went smoothly. I narrowed the midriff pieces to fit the bodice. I omitted the waist elastic without any issues. I made the skirt a bit longer in front than recommended given my tummy! There is a nice overlap on the skirt, so even though there is no fastening below the midriff I haven’t had any wardrobe malfunctions. For the hem, I folded over twice and handstitched.

With my boys at graduation
I like the final fit very much. I will probably make the pattern again in one of the other views, but I will be sure to use negative ease in the bodice! I've included a couple of dressform pics below, in case I'm too "camouflaged" in the pictures above. 😉 You can appreciate the nice hi-lo hem, even without the baby bump. 


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.