Floral Print High-Waist Pencil Skirt

It’s fashion show time again here in the great city of Portland, Oregon, and that means time to bust out the best wardrobe to wear! For the occasion, I finally got around to make up this pencil skirt that I have been wanting to sew for some time now:

 

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Cheers to my new skirt!

 

The fabric is the showcase for this project. It’s silk twill from the late designer Oscar de la Renta that I purchased from Mood Fabrics online. I’ve had this beautiful (and spendy) fabric in my stash for two years, and was overdue for it’s time to be made into something wonderful.

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Oscar de la Renta Silk Twill

 

I have been saving some pins on my skirt inspiration board on Pinterest in hopes to make up a simple, yet wonderful, pencil skirt in a floral fabric:

 

Burda Pattern 7124 was my choice to make up this skirt as I love the slim fit and the high waist of view B:

burda-7124

Burda Pattern 7124

 

The pattern was a little bit of a challenge to read and interpret the instructions, as well as keep all the pattern pieces of the waistband and waist yoke of the fashion fabric, the lining, and the interfacing straight, marked and in order, but other than that, it was a fairly easy pattern to work with. I added two inches to the hem while cutting it out in order for the finished length to hit just below my knee.

Here is my pattern all laid out on the silk (after making up a muslin mock-up of course) and ready to cut:

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Pattern layout moments before cutting

 

I chose this pattern also because of the nice walking slit and the full lining. I felt that this skirt in this special fabric deserved those features!

I used some black silk habotai that I had in my leftover scraps from another project to line the skirt and that worked out beautifully.

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Hand sewing the interior facing and lining to the zipper

I really love the finished result of this skirt and will wear it a lot.

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Interior of the skirt

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love how the back yoke pieces create the high waist

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Front of the skirt

 

I have about a yard of fabric left over from this project, and may make up a matching top at some point to make this into a two-piece dress outfit. Or, if somebody comes along and would like me to make them a custom skirt or dress from the remaining yardage, let’s talk!

Cheers!

 

Ikat Print Pleated Skirt

It’s been HOT here in Portland, in the 90’s the past few days, and I’ve been only wanting to wear dresses and skirts to try to beat the heat.

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On my sewing to-do list have been fun, lightweight and easy to wear skirts. As an inspiration,  I’ve seen cute printed a-line or pleated skirts that are fast and easy to sew, and even easier to wear. Here are some of my inspirations:

I had some nice black and white Ikat printed medium weight cotton fabric in my stash,

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plus black Bemberg rayon lining material which I usually have on hand or left over from another project, so I decided to make up a cute little pleated skirt for myself using New Look 6873 pattern which I have had forever in my pattern stash:

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New Look 6873 pattern illustrations

Well, the pattern sizing turned out to be pretty terrible and I spent most of my time fitting, ripping out stitches, and re-sewing this skirt. It was HUGE! I followed the size chart and cut the size that matched closest to my measurements. I had to take out about 2 inches at each side seam of the skirt and the waistband in order for the skirt to even come close to fitting my waist. It was almost as if I had forgotten to sew a couple of pleats it was so big!

After fitting it and re-sewing, the skirt took about twice as long as it could have to make. Plus, I added a lining to this using the pattern pieces of view C, the A line skirt with no pleats. so that added some additional time, but totally worth it.

All said and done, I probably won’t sew this pattern again. I really should be drafting my own patterns at this point anyway. I thought it would be a time saver to use a commercial pattern where the pattern work was done for me, but that was not the case here.

Oh well, now I have a cute little skirt in a great print and I am happy!

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Stay cool!

 

 

 

Animal Print Brocade Holiday Party Dress

I love this dress! I thought it would be too poofy and make me look bigger than I would like to look, but after wearing it, I was OK with the poof.

 

V1434 in animal print brocade

Vogue Pattern 1434 by Isaac Mizrahi in animal print brocade

 

I used Vogue 1434 to make this dress. It’s a Vogue Patterns American Designer pattern designed by Isaac Mizrahi:

V1434 Pattern Cover

V1434 by Isaac Mizrahi Pattern Cover

V1434 Line Drawings

V1434 Pattern Envelope Back and Line Drawings

I cut out this dress in a size 14, making a fitting muslin of the bodice first, which took some minor tweaking at the shoulders and bust princess seams, but the fit was pretty great overall. I cut it from a beautiful Italian animal print cotton blend brocade in metallic cream, rose and peach shades from Oscar de la Renta I ordered from Moodfabrics.com:

Oscar de la Renta Cream/Wint/Rose/Peach Animal Italian Cotton Blended Brocade Fabric

Oscar de la Renta Cream/Wint/Rose/Peach Animal Italian Cotton Blended Brocade Fabric

Pattern Cutting the Brocade

Pattern Cutting the Brocade

I had a nice red silk crepe de chine fabric in my stash that was just barely enough yardage to fully line the dress:

cranberry red silk crepe de chine for the lining

cranberry red silk crepe de chine for the lining

The dress was fairly easy to construct with a basic princess seam sleeveless bodice and full pleated skirt and deep pockets, lined by the same pattern pieces for the bodice and different patterned pieces for a gathered skirt lining.

The most time consuming part was making the pleats.

I traced the pleat placement using the handy pleating guide included in the pattern pieces:

Pleat Guide Pattern Piece

Pleat Guide Pattern Piece

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I found that this would have been helpful had all my pleat tracing work had actually shown up and stuck to the brocade fabric once it came time to sew them. Instead, I actually held the guide up to my fabric as I pinned each pleat in place, then carefully basted them down:



Pinned and Sewing Pleats

Pinned and Sewing Pleats

This took the most time and attention, but it was worth the work!

finished dress!

finished dress!

I love how the lining turned out, accept the fact that I didn’t take the time to make French seams on the skirt as the inside of the lining could show my mistake or if anyone looks at it throughly inside and out. Oh well, I might just pink the seam edges so they don’t fray.

Mood Fabrics even sent a little label with the fabric that I sewed into my dress below my Love, Stephanie label. Oh, the little things make all the difference!

Labels Pinned and ready to Hand Sew Into Lining of Bodice

Labels Pinned and ready to Hand Sew Into Lining of Bodice

 

Lining of Bodice with Labels

Lining of Bodice with Labels

this dress is fully lined in red silk crepe de chine

this dress is fully lined in red silk crepe de chine

This dress was a huge hit at the two little holiday parties I went to Saturday, and I plan to wear it to another party on Sunday! I even met a woman who wants to talk to me about making some custom dresses and apparel for her! Plus, friends of mine have been dying for me to make them something custom, and we have some really great project ideas in the works! So exciting!

I was going for a dress inspired by these dresses I pinned on Pinterest:

Eliza J dress at Nordstrom

Eliza J dress at Nordstrom

Lanvin Jaquard Dress

Lanvin Jaquard Dress

It is so very cool to be able to make my own clothes, and then wear them and “sell” my work to others!

The Deep Pockets are Wonderful!

The Deep Pockets are Wonderful!

Love My New Dress!

Love My New Dress!

 

Merry Christmas, Happy Holidays and  and Happy New Year to ALL!!! MWAH!!

Sequin Mesh Strapless Gown

I finished this dress in the nick of time to wear out to the Portland Fashion and Style Awards held at the Portland Art Museum last night.

black sequin gown from Vogue 2237

black sequin gown from Vogue 2237

I love simplicity of this style and the slight train on the back of this gown:

Back of gown

Back of gown

Credit must be given to Vogue Patterns for putting out this designer pattern number 2237 from Badgley Micshka. This was a wonderful pattern to sew as it went together fairly simply and was a good learning experience.

V2237 Badgley Mischka gown and bolero

I traced off the pattern on to Swedish tracing paper and made adjustments to the length of the bodice and the skirt. After measuring the pattern and comparing them to my body measurements, accounting for an additional 3″ high heel, I found that I needed to add 2″ to the bodice and 5″ to the skirt portion of the pattern.

I then cut out and sewed up a muslin of the gown as well as the corset for fitting. My lovely friend helped me pin this dress and make notes on the muslin where to take in and let out.

I found this lovely sequin mesh polyester material at Fabric Depot in Portland, Oregon and thought it had the perfect drape and sparkle for this project.

I got a flesh colored Ambiance lining that matched the color of my skin to line the dress so that it appeared to be see-thru when wearing:

The sequin mesh material was perfect to sew with as it is very soft and the sequins are as well. I was able to sew it without having to remove the sequins from the seam allowances with saved a bundle of time.

I love the scalloped and fringe-like selvedge of the material and was hoping to trim it off and incorporate it into  the dress either at the hem or the top edge, but I ran out of time to do this. I suppose I can go back and add it at another time, or use it for another project. It is just too pretty to toss out!

Here is the muslin and sequin fabric draped on my dress forms:

draped and muslin V2237

sequin fabric draped and muslin pinned to dress forms

The pattern design includes a corset-like under structure that holds up the strapless gown that is sewn into the lining. I added 3 additional boning channels to this at the front and under the bust for added support.

I used a heavier weight muslin for the structure part of the corset and the same lining as the gown to line it. Turned out really great!

I did have to make several fitting adjustments to the outer part of the dress as at first the muslin needed to be let out, but then in the sequin material, which does have a lot more “give” than muslin, I had to take it back in. I had to make fitting adjustments a couple of times actually, in order to get the nice tight fit that a strapless gown requires in order to stay up. Thanks to my part time job doing bridal and special occasion gown fittings and alterations at David’s Bridal, I have learned a great deal about fitting gowns and this knowledge came in quite handy!

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After many hours of fitting and sewing this dress (and leaving off some steps as time was up!), I really love the outcome of the gown and was excited to wear it to the big event! I may go back and make adjustments to the “peaks” of the bodice so that they are a little pointier and less rounded at the top, and the lining drove me nuts all night as it was coming up over the edge of the dress and showing! At least the lining is flesh colored and it was not as noticeable, but I still was not happy with that.

After looking at photos, maybe the bodice was a little too tight as my boobs looked kind of squished. I guess I didn’t realize that I can fake a pretty good cleavage in this kind of dress! Cool!

I was rushing to finish in time (as usual) and sewing on the hook and eye at the back when I was supposed to be on my way to my friend’s house to get ready, but we made it in perfect timing, so it was  all good in the end.

V2237 lining and label

V2237b

black sequin gown from Vogue 2237

V2237d

Back of gown

Very good actually!

V2237a

 

And here I am wearing a little hat designed by ElizaBeth Rohloff. She was nominated at the Portland Fashion and Style Awards for Best Accessory Designer, but sadly didn’t win (this time!). It was fun to wear!

V2237 and hat

Off to the event! Bye!

 

 

Printed Silk Tank Top

I felt the itch to sew up something quick and easy to wear, so I made up this little silk top using Simplicity 1253 pattern and some lovely Derek Lam printed silk/lycra fabric:

Simplicity 1253 top in Derek Lam printed silk

Simplicity 1253 top in Derek Lam printed silk

Simplicity 1253 in Derek Lam designer silk

Simplicity 1253 in Derek Lam designer silk

This little top pattern took just a couple of days of on and off sewing time and under 2 yards of fabric. It features a pleated front, hi/low hem and a neck band.

Front neck pleat detail

Front neck pleat detail

The neck band took a little time to sew on, as I chose to sew the inside enclosing seam by hand instead of the stitch in the ditch method that the pattern has you do. This method NEVER turns out well for me, so I just take out my needle, thread and thimble and get to work hand sewing:

Slip stitching the inside of the neck band by hand

Slip stitching the inside of the neck band by hand

There is a little keyhole opening in the back with a loop and button closure which is a nice little feature:

back of top with loop and button closure

back of top with loop and button closure

I like to layer these little silk tops under jackets and cardigans or on their own:

My new top layered under a jacket

My new top layered under a jacket

I almost always have inspiration styles after which I try to model my sewing projects:

Joie "Corette" printed silk tank $158

Joie “Corette” printed silk tank $158

Joie printed silk tank top

Joie printed silk tank top

Tie Neck Silk Blouse-Coral Pink Charmeuse

OK, maybe these tie neck or “pussy bow” style tops are old school, maybe they are haute couture. I don’t know for sure. All I know is I love them. And, I know that I will make them over and over again, until I cannot bare to make any more:

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This beauty I made for my stunning brunette friend (you know how you are 🙂 ) as a gift. I have had this pinky/coral colored lustrous silk charmeuse for about two years now, keeping Her in mind to make a top for. I finally had her body measurements (I measured them for her on Thanksgiving 2014 before dinner), and figured she would look really nice in a lower cut, tie neck blouse, in a favorite color that she loves, not to mention looks really pretty on her.

I used Simplicity 1784 pattern, view A,  to make this blouse.

Simplicity 1784                                                   1784_fbvSimplicity

 

I ran out to Button Emporium to find some pretty , unique, and special buttons to use for this top. I found some lovely German Word War II-era pink glass buttons and grabbed up enough, plus extra, to button up this beauty.

Antique German glass buttons

Buttoned barrel sleeve cuff

 

Front buttons of blouse

Front buttons of blouse

I attempted to make this top as nicely as I could. I used French seams for the side, sleeve and armhole sleeves, plus hand stitched the interior of the cuff and neckline seams. Next time I make this top, or any top like this, I will not use fusible interfacing, at least not in the neck facing, because it left the facing a little warpy and stiff, plus it shows a little. I will try a silk organza, or the self material, for any interfacing parts the next time.

I have seen, and Pinned, several tops and blouses lately, that were an inspiration for this creation:

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I hope that She loves and enjoys this top and can wear it for many years to come. Who knows, maybe she will commission me to make her more of these, or similar ones, to add to her wardrobe and wear for the future. I would LOVE to do that! For Her, or anyone else who would like that. And who can afford me too 😉

back of silk blouse

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Silk Crepe Blouson Top New Look 6303

 

 

 

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

I just completed this lovely purple silk crepe crossover blouson top from New Look 6303 pattern.  I just love the style of this top as I have seen on Pinterest several times and have pinned a few to my “Sew Love-Tops” board:

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This was a fast and fairly easy sewing reject, after I lengthened the sleeves 3″ and left out the neck binding. I also did not tack the center front edges, but may go back and do this to keep the top closed, or add the neck binding. as included in the pattern, or make up another version of a binding.

I made the side, shoulder, arm and armhole seams all French seams to prevent fraying and to make it pretty on the inside too.

The top features a nice center back pleat and a longer back hem:

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This top even looks nice on the dress form:

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I love my new top, especially the color!

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If I make it again, which will be likely (although it takes up a whopping 3 1/4 yards 45″ wide fabric (2 1/4 60″ wide!), I will probably also make a change to the neckline and make it just a straight angle from the shoulder, or add the binding and make a tie closure.

Either way, this is a great pattern and I even like the sleeveless version view D as well.

 

Leather inset peplum top and skirt

I made this top and skirt yesterday to wear as an usher at Fashion Week fashion show next weekend. I had some leather in my stash I got at Tandy Leather in Portland and used a mystery thick ponte knit (I think this was actually a neoprene fabric) I bought over a year ago at Mill End for the rest of the top and matching pencil skirt. I used New Look pattern 6130 for the outfit.

Leather inset peplum top and skirt                  IMAG2061                         IMAG2066                        IMAG2067

I may be a little late to the peplum party, but I have found some similar dresses online at high end retailers such as these pricey ones:

faux leather bodice peplum dress $595

\ faux leather bodice peplum dress $595

Raoul $395

Raoul $395

I can’t wait to wear this to the fashion event!

Update: Here I am wearing my outfit at a fashion show in October 2014. I got tons of compliments on this dress, and was asked if I have a line of clothing! I think I’d better get on that request and start designing for real!

Posing with some of my fashion friends at FashioNXT fashion show in POrtland Oregon

Posing with some of my fashion friends at the 2014 FashioNXT fashion show in Portland Oregon

Silk Hi/Low Hem Tank Top

S1693blackside

S1693blackfront          S1693         S1693blackback        S1693blackbackdetail

I finally got to making this black silk tank top for my niece that I promised her nearly a year ago. Bad Auntie!

I made it from Simplicity 1693 pattern, which I have made for myself before, also in silk. I used the back side of the silk charmeuse so that it is not as shiny as the face of the fabric is, but it is still quite luxurious and soft to wear. I made the bias binding strips, using the shiny side of the fabric as the side that will show for around the neckline and armholes. I made French seams throughout and sewed a lovely faceted glass button from Button Emporium on for the back closure opening with a thread chain loop.

It is hard to see from the photos and in this inky black color the luxuriousness of this blouse and the bust dart, but trust me, it’s really nice! I have another identical one already cut out and ready to sew for myself, or to sell to someone if the opportunity arises. I have other nice silk materials that I could whip up into this top as well. It is a very simple style, but I think it will look great with skinny jeans, tucked into a pencil skirt, under a jacket or cardigan over it, and a with nice necklace or scarf around the neck. It is a great basic tank in a luxe, soft silk with a little updated style twist. Gotta have it!

I found similar silk tanks online from high-end retailers going for $129 to $179, so it makes me very happy to know that I can make this blouse in a few hours using a little over a yard of fabric costing about $30-$40 using really nice silk and a nice button, or other closure options (a nice lightweight little zipper would look cute here too). Other design options could develop from this pattern such as insets of other materials such as leather, mesh or lace, trim such as embellishments, beading, or bindings. I have so many ideas swarming around in my head!

Here are some images I gathered of comparable silk tanks going for at least $138 at Nordstrom and Neiman Marcus:

Joie Walton silk tank $138       Joie "Loriann" silk tank $178        Eileen Fisher Long Silk Tank $148

I am sending the tank top off to my lovely niece in Amsterdam, Holland today. I hope she likes it!

LWD Sewing Contest Dress

On Patternreview.com, the LWD Sewing Contest is in full swing, with only 8 days left to enter my version of a little white dress. I have decided, after debating over about 4 fitted sheath dress commercial sewing patterns, to sew New Look 6123, making view C with no sleeve flounce or any other drape, sleeve or added style details:

New Look 6123                          6123_fbv

If this dress is successful, I will use this pattern again and possibly use some of the other included design details such as the little tab sleeve, the short, cap sleeve, the crossover bodice, and possibly the draped skirt (just the pleated part though, no extra hip and thigh attention is needed on this body). Plus, it would be a great dress for a client.

Some of my inspiration LWD dresses are the following silhouettes on these lovely ladies:

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I am using a white stretch cotton lycra blend woven material, sort of like a stretch sateen minus the sheen, for the outer dress, and a poly/rayon/lycra (at least I think that is the blend) lining material.

As the pattern does not come with instructions for a lining for this dress, and the tight white dress with no lining will surely be too hideous by revealing all my awesome saddlebag cellulite and flabby little tummy pooch, I am going to make my own lining from the pattern pieces of the dress. Hopefully the stretch lining material from Mill End Store in Beaverton, OR I chose will help to smooth out and suck in my icky areas!

Too many of these nice dress patterns come with no lining instructions, or instructions for only lining the bodice. I find that so frustrating! But oh well. I suppose that is one of the many reasons why I have taken the time and spent the money to take sewing, pattern making, draping and apparel construction classes from various sources, conduct research online, and acquire sewing books that will teach me what I need to know about sewing. I plan to take the time to design my own patterns, be more creative, and fulfill my dreams of being a great sewer and designer. For now, I use commercial sewing patterns (I own more than 450 of them. Wow!), and I love every minute of sewing!

So, back to my dress creation. I have decided on a simple silhouette for a LWD as too much fuss on a LWD can just look, well, wrong. The bodice is sleeveless, high boatneck, with waist and bust darts. The skirt is a simple, darted, pegged-in, strait pencil skirt. Very basic, nothing crazy, kind of boring actually. But I want to keep it clean and streamlined. I may install the invisible zipper as the pattern calls for, or possibly the silver metal fashion zipper I bought at Joann Fabrics on clearance for $9, exposing the metal zip teeth for a design edge. I have not decided on that element yet.

The only pattern changes I made were to cut the skirt in size 14 (the bodice I cut the size 12) and taper the skirt waist to a 12 on the front and back top edges, and also to taper the hem of the skirt to be more of a pegged, pencil skirt. Both of these were done using my hip curve design ruler. I know I could get more creative with this simple sheath by moving darts, adding seams, adding a beading or embroidered design and such. Next time.

I am actually using this pattern as a test dress for fit, and if I like it, to use as a base for many style, color and fabrication versions.  White is not very forgiving, nor is it usually slimming, and my weirdly shaped, aging body, is not getting much skinnier! But white is a great, cool color to wear, and has so many outfit options. So, a great fit in a nice fabric, made well, are the only true tools I have for this kind of sheath dress to be a winner and for the most flattering outcome. I hope it fits!

Plus, this is the first time I am using my new, wonderful Babylock Imagine serger in a project! So far, I used it to overlock all of the inside edges of my fabric cut out dress and lining pattern pieces for this dress to prevent fraying and to have nicely finished interior seams. So wonderful!

I will post my finished LWD (cross your fingers for a good one!) as soon as I am finished and follow up with more sewing and fitting notes!

Saturday 2/8/14

I worked on my LWD today for several hours. I basted it together and got it fitted by my husband. I found the upper part of the back too wide, as usual, but the rest of the dress fit well. I made adjustments to the pattern for future reference, and marked and re-serged the back edges of the dress as well as to the lining, creating a new center back seam allowance.

Here is the dress, basted together, and on my dress form. Also a shot of the back side of the dress with the silver metal fashion zipper pinned into the center back seam:

IMAG1750                     IMAG1752

So far, so good! It looks a little “nurse-y”, but that can  happen with LWD’s, so that’s to be expected.

I went on to sew the entire lining exactly the same as the outer dress leaving out the zipper. Here are the twin dresses. The outer dress (right dress) and lining (left dress), all ready to be sewn together and joined at the neckline and sleeve openings:

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I decided to not do the silver zipper as it may limit the style in a way, so I chose the invisible zip as the instructions with the pattern include. Here is my progress so far with hand basting in the invisible zip:

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Next up:

  • Finishing installing the invisible zip
  • Sewing in my Love, Stephanie label to the lining
  • Sewing the lining to the dress
  • Pressing well
  • Understitching the lining to the seam allowance
  • Stitching the lining to the zipper opening either by hand or machine
  • Figuring out how to do the back vent split with the lining
  • The hem

Update Thursday 2/13/14

Well I got a good ways on my LWD over the weekend, especially since we had a snow storm and the entire city shut down for 4 days, so I got a lot of good sewing done while cooped up in the house.

I followed a great zipper installation video tutorial on Craftsy.com to install my invisible zipper with the lining. It came out really nice! However, after the zipper was in, it was impossible to figure out how to sew and finish off the armholes and the bottom hem of the dress on the sewing machine, so I think I’ll have to resort to doing this by hand. I began pinning the armholes in preparation to slip stitch the lining to the outer material, but had to stop here and begin a new project right away, a black dress for a funeral. See the next post for this adventure.

Meanwhile, here is my LWD nearly done and laying on my table waiting with high hopes to be finished in two days to enter into the LWD contest:

LWD on table

July 31 2014 Update:

I finally completed my LWD! Needless to say, I did not make it in time to enter my LWD into the contest, but I did finish it in time for mid-summer wardrobe opportunities. I really should have finished this dress sooner as it’s a great little wardrobe staple, especially for summer!

I am very pleased with the fit of this dress and will go back to this pattern for more versions of it. It actually make a nice sloper to use for other dress designs. I have some other nice stretch woven materials in my stash, including some solids and a nice Ikat print, that would work very well made up in this pattern.

Also, I have enrolled in and have been watching the Craftsy online class Patternmaking and Design: Creative Darts and Seamlines with Suzy Furrer. In this classes, Suzy takes a basic sloper and shows how to add creative darts and seamlines to make a more interesting garment. I want to try some of the methods to create a more interesting twist beginning with a basic design, and this pattern is the perfect base to begin with.

Apologies for the blurry photos. My in-house photographer/Dear Husband is out of town on a business trip so I had to use the self timer on my camera to take photos today (does that count as a selfie???).

Little white dress

LWD completed

little white sheath dress New Look 6123

Sheath dress in white stretch sateen

back view of New Look 6123

Back view of completed LWD