Thursday, October 26, 2017

Suits Me: The Refashioners 2017

Suits Me: The entire ensemble

Portia's #therefashioners2017 challenge of #suitsyou was right up my alley! My work wardrobe is based on business casual, with a strong bohemian influence and a little bit of chic mixed in. I felt that a suit refashion was the perfect opportunity to make some work attire while adding my own twist!
I used a 2-piece suit found on eBay for this refashion. It was a Haggar men's 2-piece gray pinstripe suit with a single-breasted 2-button 42 long jacket and a 36x34 trousers. (I found another pinstripe suit in a lighter gray with a vest that I will also be refashioning at some point.)

I started by making a sleeveless suit dress from the jacket. Using the jacket sleeves and adding ProWeft Supreme Light interfacing, I was able to insert a wide waistband to make the dress a work-appropriate length while maintaining the original back vent. I used my dress form, Astrid, to pin fit the suit, generally along the original style lines. I was able to use the original lining, so this was almost a zero waste refashion! I didn't reuse the shoulder pads, instead pinning and repinning the armscye until I was happy with the style line. The only other supply I used (besides thread) were some buttons from Joann. The fiddliest bit was sewing the lining to the suit at the armscye. A lot of hand sewing went into this! My favorite thing about the make is the deep pockets. The back vent needs a bit of a rework to lie a bit more smoothly. 




I will probably layer it over a long sleeved shirt and tights for the winter. It also looks great over the skirt as a long waistcoat!

The back -- the vent is a bit wonky

The trousers were wide enough that I was able to squeeze my TNT pencil skirt pattern out of it by adding a center front seam, retaining the original front and back pockets (hooray for pockets!). The skirt is a bit more pegged in than previous makes due to fabric width. I used the skirt from Simplicity 2154 and added a lining using Bemberg rayon from The lining isn't in the original pattern, so I made my own pattern adding additional ease at the hips and a bit of extra length at the back vent so it doesn't pull. I also used pleats instead of darts at the waist. To sew in the lining at the vent, I used this nice tutorial from sew2pro. I used the original waistband and put in a center back zipper all the to the top, first interfacing the fabric, then adding a button and fabric loop inside à la Tany.



Back -- needs a pressing after being packed for a long car ride to Missouri!

I'm quite pleased with both pieces, which can be worn separately or together, making lots of different winter layering options! Taking an all-business suit and stamping it with my own personality was very satisfying. Thanks for the challenge, Portia! I'm looking forward to next year. In the meantime, I can refashion that other suit...

Monday, October 16, 2017

2017 Frocktober #1

I was inspired to make this sixties style dress by BurdaStyle's Member Model Challenge. Due to the combination of a newborn and choosing a fabric too late, it was not completed in time for the deadline. I took my time finishing it instead, and I'm much happier with the result than I would be had I rushed! Since most of the construction was done in October, it qualifies for Petite Passions #wardrobebuilder October challenge of "Vintage."

Wrinkles due to stance, not the need for a swayback adjustment!

The fabric is Telio Double Weave Stretch Suiting in Emerald from (not an affiliate link) and is 68% polyester/24% rayon with 5% four-way stretch. I washed and dried it on a gentle setting. It did not press easily (I had to use my clapper), but the benefit of that is excellent wrinkle resistance! I only used 1.5 yards (not the suggested 2.2 meters/2.4 yards). The fabric feels lovely and soft, and I think the solid color displays the design lines to best advantage.  

BurdaStyle 09/2006 #193

The pattern is BurdaStyle 09/2006 #193, and I cut a size 38. The fitting gave me some trouble due to my small bust. I usually have no trouble with a small bust adjustment, but the unique gathers at the top of the bust made a bust adjustment beyond my drafting skills. Instead I changed the waist darts to deep pleats. My hope is that the excess fabric over the bust looks like a "design feature"! What do you think? Am I deluding myself? Any suggestions for a method of adjusting the bust in this situation for the future?

Bust close-up on the dressform

The inside seams were serged and pressed open. The gathered elements at the neckline were tricky and a bit time consuming (I sewed them by hand). They looked pretty messy inside when done, so I backed them with scraps of lining fabric from my stash. Sorry I forgot to take a before picture! The neckline and armholes were finished with bias binding catch-stitched down on the inside.

Inside the bodice

The bottom hem was finished with seam tape and a 2 inch wide handstitched hem. I didn't need to adjust the length at all, either in the bodice or the skirt. The invisible zipper insertion on the left went in beautifully! Then I had to unpick half of it for a fitting adjustment at the hips. :( Luckily it still looks pretty good.

I am very pleased with the finished product! It's a fun dress. I wore it to a retirement party with a shawl for warmth:

I probably won't make it again. Its a very specific style, and I don't need more than one in my wardrobe! I will definitely consider using the fabric again, though, particularly if it wears well (perhaps some navy trousers?). It's quite comfortable with that small amount of stretch, but thick enough to use as bottomweight. 

Thursday, October 12, 2017

Summer Sleepwear

Summer pajamas

This pajama set was sewn for August's Wardrobe Builder sleepwear challenge (from Laura at The Petite Passions). I was inspired by Closet Case Patterns Carolyn Pajamas, but rather than buying another pattern to add to my already too big collection, I decided to use 2 patterns already in my stash: BurdaStyle 12/2014 #133 (free on the BurdaStyle website) and McCall's 2101 (OOP but a copy is available on Amazon).

BurdaStyle 12/2014 #133 Pajama Top

McCall's 2101 Drawstring Pants

BurdaStyle 12/2014 #133 is a drop shoulder button up pajama shirt with a deep back pleat. I cut a size 38, but narrowed the front and back by 1 inch (I was concerned there would be too much wearing ease for my taste). I drafted separate front facings, a pocket facing, and separate cuffs for piping insertion and also added piping to the collar. I left out the bottom pockets and changed the straight hem to a shirttail hem. Based on fit in the shoulders, I will add back the ease I removed for my next version! I think I also need to lengthen the top.

McCall's 2101 is a pattern for drawstring pants. I sewed view E (the shorts), size medium with about 1.5 inches of ease taken out of the hips (I will add a bit back for the next version). I adjusted the crotch to fit my pants sloper a bit more closely while still maintaining a relaxed fit. I drafted separate cuffs to allow piping insertion and added seamed pockets and a faux fly.

The fabric came from a set of old sheets. I didn't realize the fabric was directional with a different shade depending on which way is up until my husband pointed out that the top and bottom of the set are different colors! Oops. Good thing they're just pajamas!

Piping detail. Buttons from my stash. 

I used a soft cotton fabric from my stash to make the bias binding for the piping. There was enough of this fabric left to make a camisole as well! 

I have  been wanting to find a TNT cami pattern, so I made the Diana cami from Spit Up and Stilettos/Sew Loft (free pattern hosted at Hoopes Parks Studio), size S at the bust graded to M at the waist in the soft pink cotton. I compared this to the Ogden cami from True Bias (size 2) in a pink and purple quilting cotton (also from my stash). The Odgen is one of my #2017makenine, so it feels good to check that off! Neither pattern has any darts to worry about. The Diana is finished at the top with bias binding and has an interesting back strap style; the Ogden is finished with a facing and is definitely a faster sew!

Here's the Diana:

Back detail without hair in the way!
And the Ogden:

(Right strap is sewn in properly -- just twisted in the photo!)

I prefer the way the Ogden fits me, though I will probably use the Diana back detail again at some point. I love that the Ogden takes less than 1 yard of fabric and that it's such a quick sew! Unlike the Diana, it's not free, but it's very well drafted and is a nice basis for hacks (see True BiasThreadbear Garmentstrine.schroeder, lindsayinstitches, and Sew Busy Lizzy). There's a reason it's so popular in the sewing blogosphere! I will be sewing up several more for winter layering in a drapier fabric than quilting cotton. 😉 I also plan on making the pajama set again for winter in a pink and purple striped cotton flannel. I will make the pants long, but keep the top short sleeved.

This last summer I also made a robe, so my summer loungewear is complete! I used the free kimono Robe pattern from Connecting Threads. The dark purple fabric was a sheet rescued from the thrift store and the lining fabric is more of the lavender sheets the pajamas are made from. I used the patterned portions of the sheet for the back, cuffs, and collar and added ribbon belt loops for the tie. At the moment it's the perfect weight, though I may want to make a heavier robe for the dead of winter!

Do you have a TNT camisole pattern that you prefer? November is TNT month at the Sewcialists--the perfect chance to find one and make a few camisoles!

Thursday, September 21, 2017

American Kilt

I am way behind on posting my summer makes! During my time off, I spent a lot of time sewing and not a lot of time blogging. Then I started my new job, and everything else took a back seat. Now I'm on maternity leave, and will try to document some of my favorite makes from the last few months. I also have big plans for the Refashioners 2017 #suitsyou challenge!

My husband A requested this kilt, and since he's never asked me to make anything else for him, I couldn't really say no! It was also fun to have him encourage me to spend more time in the craft room. 😉 I drafted the pattern using his measurements and adjusting the tutorial for a traditional Scottish kilt in Ann Stewart's article in Threads, Vol 33, Feb/Mar 1991, pages 54-60, entitled "Making a Kilt: Sew a man's traditional kilt or a woman's kilt skirt" to fit this inspiration kilt:

Sport Utility Kilt by Damn Near Kilt 'Em
The Stewart article is really excellent; I highly recommend reading it before making a kilt! I found it on my Threads Magazine Archive DVD (not an affiliate link; totally worth the cost!). Here's what my pattern diagram looked like when I was done drafting it:

I used a dark khaki-colored stretch wool twill that A and I picked out at A Fabric Place in Baltimore when we were there for a friend's wedding. I wasn't sure how much I needed, so got 8 yards. Turns out this was more than enough, since the fabric was 55" wide and the finished kilt length was only 24". I ended up using about 5 yards of fabric, leaving plenty for a future pair of dress pants for me! The facing was made from a natural linen rayon mix from the remnant bin at Joann Fabrics. I prewashed and dried the wool twill to prevent any shrinkage of the finished product. Hardware was sourced from Joann Fabrics (brass snaps), BagMakingBees on Etsy (brass buckles), and TrimmingShop on Etsy (bronze eyelets). 

I kept extensive notes in case I ever want to make another version. Unlike a traditional kilt where the pleats all point one direction, the pleats on the "American Kilt" switch directions in the back. They are topstitched down from the waist to the hipline, then hang free. Copious amounts of steam were used to press the pleats below the hipline, and they have kept their shape well with wear.

The overapron wraps over the underapron and is attached with 8 heavy duty snaps. Straps on the right side of the overapron buckle to the right hip and keep the front lying smooth over the hip. The two pockets hang free from the top and are large enough for a smart phone, keys, a wallet, and a flask, should you desire! 


The inside edge of the waistband was finished with bias tape, then topstitched into place from the outside. There were lots of opportunities to practice perfecting edgestitching and topstitching!

Aaron is pleased with how the kilt turned out. Next he wants me to make him a pair of jeans! 

Next up, some sleepwear from old bedsheets!

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.