Cocoon Coat for A Goddess

One of my very favorite people on this planet is my beautiful friend Julie. She is a Goddess in my eyes. She has the biggest heart, is always cheerful and gives all of herself all of the time. Julie is a 2-time breast cancer survivor and is the strongest woman I know.

Julie had the opportunity to travel to California for a ritual retreat with a group of good witches. She would share stores, rituals and positive vibes with her sisters, and she wanted to dress the part and feel fabulous. She asked me if I could make her a special garment for her retreat, on short notice, and showed me her inspiration photo

Inspiration Robe in moss green velvet. So pretty!

GASP!!!! Yes!!!

I had to find a way (and the time) to make this amazing dressing robe for my dear friend, no question.

You see, this robe design goes way back to the early part of the 20th century by means of the artist and fashion designer Paul Poiret in 1910. And you know, I LOVE me some fashion history!

Quoting from the pattern envelope that I used to re-create this coat, appropriately named the Cocoon Coat, here is a little snippet about the designer and the history of the popular coat style:

“Paul Poiret (1876-1944) is generally recognized as the first “modern” fashion designer, and his influence on 20th-century fashion was profound. It is Poiret who is most remembered for freeing women from 19th-century corsets, although he then hobbled them with extremely narrow skirt hems, and for modernizing the Victorian silhouette. As the Parisian designer explained, “I like a plain gown, cut from light and supple fabric, which falls from

the shoulders to the feet in long, straight folds, like thick liquid, just touching the outline of the figure and throwing shadow and light over the moving form”

The fully lined Cocoon Coat offered here was designed around 1913-1919. It features batwing sleeves, one-piece front/back body, neckband, and a hobble skirt.”

Folkwear Pattern #503, http://www.folkwear.com
https://www.metmuseum.org/art/collection

Julie found this perfect pattern on of Poiret’s design from Folkwear patterns on Etsy, purchased a copy, and had it sent by express mail to me as soon as we agreed on the project and came up with the project plan, timeline and signed my contract agreement. We met up a few days later at the fabric store, and she purchased some gorgeous velvet and satin and we got started making the coat!

Because Julie is such a bright, happy and colorful person, she chose a bright, happy pink to have her cocoon coat made in! Deep pink velvet with a hot pink satin lining was the perfect choice for Julie as it went with the outfit she was planning to wear under the coat (pink French lingerie, of course!), her pink-streaked hair, all for the temptress alluring witch vibe she was going for!

Temptress Vibes. Nailed it!!!

Once I received the pattern Julie ordered, we set up a session to start making the robe together. We only had a couple of week’s time to get it done in time for her to pack it for her trip, so I took all the help and time she had to offer.

Although this pattern seems to be complicated to make with the batwing sleeves and the long, draped back, it is really just two very large pattern pieces, one left and one right side of the coat, with a seam down the center back and a seam pulling the sleeve together while simultaneously creating the draped shape. You cut 2 of the outer pieces and 2 for the lining, and the neck band.

We got to cutting out the enormous pattern pieces on the floor of my sewing room, trying to make sure everything was flat and not shifting as we cut, which was no easy task. We did the best we could with the space and tools that we had, and didn’t worry too much about perfection.

Sewing this baby was not easy either. Velvet is notorious for being difficult to sew as it shifts and slips and doesn’t like to be pressed or un-stitched if you make a mistake. Satin isn’t much better. Throw in the fact that the pieces to be sewn together are HUGE, and I was running out of time, so I didn’t have time to fuss and fiddle with it.

I kept Julie informed with my progress with photos of what I had done and when I expected to be finished. The coat did come together fairly quickly even with all of the setbacks and really started to look quite special and amazing!

The lining! Love it
Making progress with the coat, and imagining it with this awesome pink strappy bootie!

As the coat was taking shape and I was nearing the finished project, I took the time to try to capture photos of it. The photos certainly don’t do it justice on a dress form as the color is all wrong for one thing, and you really see the drape and shape of the coat on a person, but it still looked pretty dang awesome!

The front of the coat and the reflection of the back

As I finished the coat just in time to deliver it to Julie on her way out of town for her event, I made sure to sew a label in it to remind her of me and my presence on her back whenever she wore it.

Made with Love

Here’s Julie’s take on our Cocoon Coat adventure:

Cocoon Coat!

“The Cocoon coat was made from a Poiret pattern, and a style popular in the ‘20’s.

I was creating an outfit for a branding photo shoot, and what came to me was the Goddess. I googled Goddess robe and came across a modified cocoon coat, and another with an amazing headpiece and so this vision was born. I immediately called Stephanie and told her I was so damn excited and all of the deets!!! This coat would bring to life my vision of the Goddess, a facet of me, of my magic and beauty.

We selected the fabric, an amazing dark garnet pink color, crushed velour, with a brilliant pink satin for lining. The trim is a black almost rhinestone.

The coat is luxurious and alluring, timeless and makes me feel glamorous. As the Goddess, i wore the coat with my wedding lingerie underneath, bra, panties, garter and pink backseam stockings –

The coat is also something that could be worn as a coat for a glamorous evening out, or an intimate evening in, its so soft, and just envelops me in glowing pink, warmth and I feel like a movie star, the custom creation brought my vision to life and is a timeless statement piece that will remain in my wardrobe forever”

Julie Papke, September 2, 2022

Thank you so much for your thoughts on our process Julie! I loved working with you and creating this special coat just for you. I hope you love it forever!

Julie absolutely is magical in her Cocoon Coat and special sexy outfit, perfectly accessorized with cool boots and a crown.

Julie performs her magic!

My Custom Dressmaking Process: From Start to Finish

Meet the Maker: Stephanie of Love, Stephanie

Have you ever wondered what it would be like to have a custom dress or outfit made just for you? Have you thought that just buying something off the rack or from a website is good enough and will do for the occasion, but deep down (or not even that deep) you wish you could wear something that fit you perfectly, was made well, is a flattering color on you, and was something you would be comfortable, confident and proud to wear to your event and beyond? Do you want a great dress, top, suit or outfit hanging in your wardrobe that you can reach for again and again and just know it works? If you said “yes!” to all of the above, I would love to be the one to make this dream come true for you!

So, what does this process look like, how does it all happen and how long would it take? It’s this going to cost me an arm and a leg?

For those questions, the answer is: it all depends.

First off, I am a one woman operation (at least for now I am) and only have so much time in a day. My goals for my Love, Stephanie custom sewing business include creating quality, timeless apparel for special clients who recognize the value in a well made custom garment. I use fine quality materials and construction methods, I don’t take on rush jobs, and I don’t take shortcuts. That being said, that is what takes the time to perfect the fit, using smart construction techniques, and all of the education and sewing skills that I have learned over the years that rolls into the lead time and cost of a custom made garment.

That’s me! Stephanie of Love, Stephanie

Sound intriguing so far? Great! Read on and I’ll walk you through what my typical process looks like from the perspective that includes the client experience and what to expect.

We begin with an initial meeting where I get to know you better, what your ideas and visions are for your custom garment, what your lifestyle is like, and what mood or purpose you’d like to portray through the garment you’ll be wearing.

Initial Client Consultation

From there, I build a plan and a timeline to achieve the finished garment before your deadline and get started sourcing fabrics and pattern options that go into making your garment.

Going over sketches and fabric ideas

I like to create sketches, a mood board, and gather any other ideas and components that go into the creative process of making a successful garment, and share these with you along the way.

After our initial consultation meeting, I gather up all the information and write up a contract that includes all of your contact information, the deadlines, our design concept agreement, project components, costs and payment schedule for you to read over and sign. This is an important step as I want to ensure both of us are in agreement over all of the details in case any questions or concerns should arise.

Then the fun begins! I’ll take all of the body measurements I need from you and get started making the garment.

Taking measurements
Lots of measurements!

Using your measurements and a pattern, I cut out and sew up a simplified mock-up garment in muslin fabric to check fit, style preferences and to make sure you are happy with the basic silhouette before cutting into any fashion fabric. At times, an additional muslin, or part if it, needs to made and fitted again if there are a lot of changes that need a review before proceeding.

A mock-up fitting in muslin
I check for any fit issues that need to be corrected, and make sure you are happy with the style lines and length

Meanwhile, the fashion fabric that you want, including any lining material, trim and notions needed, is confirmed and purchased. I aim to use the best quality fabric that is within your budget (not included in the cost of my labor) as I truly feel that the fabric makes all the difference in the look and wear of a garment. I prefer to work with natural fibers such as cotton, wool, silk and linen, but will consider good quality man made fabrics to sew with such as rayon and synthetic blends.

Fabric choices are important in the outcome of a beautiful garment
Silk is my personal favorite!

Once the muslin is approved and the fabric is all here, I transfer any changes to the pattern, and start cutting!

The beautiful silk georgette is laid out and ready to cut
And sewn (silk is notoriously difficult to sew)

Most times, I have one last fitting of the garment in the fashion fabric to double check the fit, pin the hem, and work out any last details before delivering the finished creation.

From concept to creation!
Perfection!
The final fitting!

And that’s it! Easy, right?

Well done! Cheers!

In a nutshell, that’s the process in creating a unique custom garment, made especially just for you! No matter what size or shape you are, it’s an exciting and rewarding experience like no other.

Want to give it a go? Reach out to me and come on by my place with your dream garment vision and we’ll make it happen!

Welcome! Come on in!

A Tall Drink of Style

Suzanne demonstrates her Tall Drink of Style in her new Love, Stephanie coat!

Suzanne and I go way back, 37 odd years in fact. All the way back to freshman year in high school where we carpooled to school with our moms and a few other students living in Concord and Bedford who also attended our school Lawrence Academy in Groton, Massachusetts. It is a small, private college prep school on a beautiful campus where the classes were small and everybody knew each other.

Fast forward to modern times where we keep in touch with old friends and family through social media platforms like Facebook and Instagram. That is precisely how I’ve reconnected with Suzanne and many other friends from childhood, high school and college days.

Ever since I’ve been connected with Suzanne (she used to go by Suzy), she’s been a wonderful fan and always excited to see and comment on what I’m currently sewing. A few times she’s even commented like “I just love what you’re creating!” and “someday I love for you to make something for me!” which is such a wonderful and flattering comment to hear, and more and more, something I’d like to achieve full time. Custom clothes making for clients and even more, a fashion line of my own.

Well, one garment and one client at a time, I’m starting to see this dream come to life. So far in 2022 alone, I already have 8 clients that i have already, or am currently working on creating custom garments for, plus have several bridal and special occasion alteration projects, a re-fashioning project in the works, other special makes on the list. Unfortunately I have had to turn away several potential clients as I am simply too busy to take on more.

I’m also am working with an amazing business coach who is helping , me get organized, set goals, focus on my brand and core client profile, continuing education and skill development, plus I’m building a new website and branding refresh. I expect this is going to be a great year for my business and continuing growth on the horizon. So yay!

Back to her! Suzanne saw the lovely leopard coat I made for myself and that was the one for her! She reached out to me and asked if she could commission me to make one just like it for her. Of course I was delighted that she asked and jumped on the offer.

I got to work right away to plan out the process and set up a meeting to discuss all of the options and details that go into making a coat for someone other than myself. We started with a zoom meeting to talk and actually speak to each other after all these years. I made a PowerPoint presentation as I like to do for any new client, to help explain her pattern and fabric options, talk and demonstrate more about the details she would like, and my pricing levels that depend on the components, the time, and the level of difficulty. I also include my work process and a timeline with milestones and deadlines.

A screen shot of some of my PowerPoint slides

Suzanne loved the presentation and chose the style and fabrics right away, knowing she wanted a coat just like mine with just a few customizations.

My version of this amazing coat!

I sent her some fabric swatches in the mail so she could touch and feel the lovely and soft hand of the high quality materials I’d be using to make her coat. The only differences she wanted from my version was black silk lining and a slight different collar shape.

Butterick 6385 pattern
The leopard print wool blend coating material

I also asked her to take body measurements according to a handy chart that I also sent over. We scheduled another Zoom meeting once she had the fabric swatches and measurements ready to confirm everything before I got started making a mock up in muslin for the fit and style review.

As soon as I was done sewing up the muslin of the coat, I mailed it to her and asked her to contact me as soon as she received it. She sent over some photos of her in the muslin which was great and a perfect prelude to our Zoom meeting which followed shortly after

So far, so good!
Even just in muslin it looks great on her!

With just a few changes to make to the pattern after our Zoom meeting, I immediately got to work cutting out her coat in the fashion fabric. This honestly took the most time and careful organizing with precise cutting, carefully transferring the pattern markings such as the darts, notches and matching points, and also doing the same to the flannel underlining layer (which was going in between the fashion fabric and lining) for warmth and added “body” to the outer material, and also the silk lining. Time consuming to say the least, but this step is a really important part of making a successful garment.

The coat fabric, laid out right sides together, pattern pieces anchored down on grain and prepped to cut out

So, I sewed and I sewed (and I sewed some more!), all the while keeping her posted with my progress, trying hard to meet my deadline to get it to her in time to wear it this winter.

Installing lace hem tape as part of the finishing
Hand sewing the hem to the flannel underlining
Of course, my Love, Stephanie label had to be beautiful and stand out!

After many long sewing hours and late nights hunkered down in front of my sewing machine and pressing table, I was so excited to finally finish the coat, pack it up, and ship ‘er out!

All packed up and ready to ship across the USA!

The coat arrived in perfect time for Suzanne to model for her new business launch of a fashion stylist in the Boston area appropriately named A Tall Drink of Style

Looks soooo good on her!

Check out her new business endeavor and give her a follow here on Instagram https://instagram.com/atalldrinkofstyle?utm_medium=copy_link and Facebook https://www.facebook.com/atalldrinkofstyle/photos/a.102674092375020/102673925708370/?type=3p

A Tall Drink of Style logo

I so happy for Suzanne and her new chapter in life, and I am incredibly flattered that she asked me to represent her style in a custom garment creation for her new business!

Now, that’s a tall drink of style!

Stay tuned for more great style and trend ideas from Suzanne, plus in collaboration with me, even more fashion and wardrobe ideas!

Ciao for now!

Luxe Leopard Coat

I had Dior in mind as I made this coat, with the yummy brushed wool fabric, the sumptuous silk satin lining, and the classic, tailored details, all brought me back to an era of glamor and sophistication of the 1940’s and ‘50’s.

Leopard print coat

I initially started making this coat back in October 2020, taking the time to ask my friends on Instagram which lining color they liked with the print. I ultimately chose bright red as I thought it had the best “pop”, but any one of them would have been gorgeous!

My favorite lining options for my coat, all choices in silk:

Well, as usual for me, I eagerly started working on sewing up this gorgeous coat using Butterick 6385 pattern buy cutting out the pattern tissue, tissue fitting myself to check fit, cutting out the fashion fabric, the lining and a flannel underlining for warmth. I even made a few of the first seams, including the pockets (which end up being way too small.

Note to self: next time, make the pockets bigger!

Butterick 6385 pattern from Lisette

I chose view C with the stand up collar and the rectangle pocket flap of view A.

I got to cutting out all the pattern pieces before I realized that there was a good chunk of fabric missing from the upper sleeve that would leave a huge gaping hole if I attempted to ignore it, and I didn’t have enough of the fabric left to cut the piece again. To boot, the fabric store where I got the fabric also didn’t have any of exactly the same fabric left in stock. Grrr!

So, with the air deflated out of my sewjo, I rolled up what I had done so far, and added the coat components and pattern to my “to be continued” pile and there it sat for a better part of a year. “Le Sigh”

As part of my new life goals that I have set for myself recently, at least my sewing life goals, I want to tackle my unfinished projects, finish them, and clear the decks (and my mind) to focus on new personal and client projects to work on. So, with autumn in the air and this project staring me in the face and making me feel guilty about wasting time and resources, I figured out how to fill in the missing chunk at the sleeve by using fabric glue (gasp!) and scraps from the cuttings which I always save, and got right back into making this coat

Sewing the lining, which I serged all of the edges when I originally cut out the pattern. Thank goodness I did because this silk stuff frays like a mofo

I sewed and sewed with newfound energy for this coat, staying up late and ignoring my hungry husband. He’d survive, but I couldn’t until this darn coat was DONE!

Here’s a shot of the coat just before installing the lining, showing the interior interfacing and underlining in camel flannel for warmth and extra stability to the fashion fabric

Flannel underlining and interfacing inside the coat just before adding the lining.

I skipped the shoulder pads and sleeve heads as I felt I really don’t need them, however that is one step that I probably should have done. Next time…

Setting in the lining and going the finishing touches on the coat, some by hand, was starting to turn the corner and approach the end. I took a good amount of time pressing and pinning this baby into submission, all which made it easier to sew and have professional looking results:

Hand sewing some parts always looks better (my sausage fingers would not agree)

After finally finishing the coat, sewing buttonholes and buttons, I was finally DONE!

Aren’t those buttons cute? They kind of look like the spots on the leopard print!
The red silk lining makes my heart happy!

I knew that I wanted to take some great photos of this creation for sharing on social media, and have many examples and inspiration photos from my Pinterest page such as these images:

I asked my dear fashionista friend if I could borrow a few of her gorgeous designer handbags for the photos and she was so sweet and generous to lend me some of her favorites for a few days. I narrowed down the options to these three I’m accessorizing with the coat:

A gorgeous Loewe structured tote in camel
A classic quilted Yves St Laurent chain handle
bag in black
A stunning Sophie Holme red clutch

I’ll just shut up now and let Her speak for herself…

Aaaaand, scene….

Ok, I’m now ready, the decks are clear for takeoff…

Luxe Bomber: Worth the Wait

This little gem took me months and months to make, but the actual sewing took only a few weeks to complete. My biggest weakness when it comes to sewing is starting a wonderful and exciting new project, then something else shiny (or someone who’s paying) comes along and I set it aside for far too long. This baby was exactly one of those scenarios.

I love making jackets. They are a big part of my wardrobe and can be easy to sew. They are even easier to sew if you’ve made the same one before, as I did for this bomber jacket pattern. I used Simplicity 8418 pattern for the second time to create this beauty, and it is certainly not the last time.

Now, for the ingredients that make this recipe top notch, I used beautiful silk material, quality threads, and smart sewing techniques. The main fabric for this version I decided to finally use an end remnant of gorgeous silk jacquard labeled from Chanel that I won years ago in a fabric giveaway and was stashing for a special project. I also happened to have enough of a piece of silk lining-weight material in the perfect shade of purple to coordinate with the colors of the Chanel silk, also in my stash (If you don’t know me already, I have a very healthy stash of fabric in my possession).

Of course, I also had Pinterest to add to the inspiration for this creation, which made the decision to cut into this beautiful material more bearable, because after all, you only life once and you can’t take it with you. Here are just a few of the bomber jackets that inspired me:

I got right to cutting out the pattern pieces from the main fabric and the lining, as well as the light weight batting I used to quilt the silk to. The last time I made this pattern, I quilted the entire lining and left the outer side as it were. This time, I wanted the quilting to be part of the texture of the outer garment.

Well, I quilted part of the back of the jacket, and that’s about the time when I got busy with other pressing projects, paying clients, and teaching others to sew, so the jacket partially made and the cut pattern pieces was gently laid aside on the “to be continued” pile. There it sat patiently for months.

Fast forward to October of 2021 when I was planning to attend a conference that involved the professional sewing guild that I belong to, Association of Sewing and Design Professionals or ASDP for short.https://sewingprofessionals.com/. I knew that I wanted to wear garments that I had made to the convention and had a long wish list that I had wanted to create, but for the sake of time, and to tackle my growing pile of UFO’s that stare at me when I’m in my sewing room, and seem to beg for me to just work on them just a little bit, I revisited the silk bomber project and decided it would be a fantastic option for the convention.

Hence, the sewjo for this project sparked a new light in me and I got right back into the groove of quilting this baby and getting it going in time for the convention. Whatever the motivation was, it worked and I pulled through and finished the jacket in time to wear it a couple of times even before having to pack it up and fly to Boise, Idaho for the sewing pro retreat.

Well, the convention was amazing and I got a ton of compliments on my jacket which I was proud (and perfectly comfortable) to wear. Now I call that a job well done and worth the wait!

Lady in Red

My latest creation is my favorite creation so far! It all began with falling in love with the fabric while walking through Joann Fabrics:

Red Floral Embroidered Mesh

Embroidered Floral Mesh from Joann Fabrics

I just HAD to have some of this fabric to make into a great dress as it reminded me of the couture embroidered designs of current collections as Christian Dior, Oscar de la Renta or Dolce & Gabana:

Or dresses from the past such as these from Christian Dior:

Vintage CD dresses on exhibit

I saw these dresses (and many more) at the Dior exhibit in Paris in 2017-breathtaking!

Of course, the Joann fabric is nowhere NEAR the detailed hand embroidered and embellished fabrics from these designers, but it has the look of the fabric in essence.

I started to imagine what I was going to create from this fabric with this classic pattern from Vogue choosing view C, the strapless dress with a full midi-length skirt:

Vogue 8766

From there, I cut out the bodice pattern pieces and giant skirt pieces from the embroidered fabric, the red underlining and another layer of lining in black Bemberg rayon, all purchased from Joann Fabrics.

Constructing the dress was really not all that difficult. The only part that I took extra time and attention to do was to cut out and around some of the floral motifs of the bodice in order to later overlay the motif back over the seam once the seam was sewn. I only did this for a couple of spots on the front of the bodice as I felt that it would look much better on the finished dress instead of just cutting through a large flower. I realize that this may sound confusing, but if you saw the dress up close, you’d see what I mean.

In this photo, you can somewhat see how the flower motifs get cut off and trapped into the seam, so I did my best to cut around the large ones on the center front panel of the bodice and leave them “free” as I sewed the seam, then sewed them back down and over the seam with tiny hand stiches later:

img_1654

The strapless bodice under construction

Boning came next. I followed the pattern instructions and sewed boning only into the side seams of the bodice. I thought this might not be enough support for the dress and skirt, but I just stuck to it knowing that I also planned to add a waist stay inside the dress to help hold it up and in place.

My fiancé Tom was sweet enough to help me do the final fittings of the dress and help me hem it too. He says he loves to help, I think it makes him feel like he is part of the creative process. How cute is that?!

img_1700

Tom helps fit the back of my dress before putting in the zipper 🙂

Gidget wants to participate too by sitting on my dress right before I sit on the couch to do some hand sewing. Also quite cute:

img_1702

What? Nothing to see here…Ignore the dead squirrel toy in the background

The inside of this dress came out pretty nicely too, with the smooth and shiny black lining, it slipped on with ease!

IMG_E1721

img_1722

The waist stay made from a strip of grosgrain ribbon and hook & eye was the perfect support for this dress

I was so excited about my latest creation that I just had to get some photos of it as soon as it was complete so that I could share it with the world! (Or at least, my little world!)

img_1716

My new dress is complete!

V8766 Red Dress 13

She’s so twirl-worthy!

V8766 Red Dress 14

I got a little dizzy twirling so much!

V8766 Red Dress 20

This fabric!

Vogue 8766 pattern

 

V8766 Red Dress 7

I feel like a princess in this dress!

Now, I’m off to tidy up my sewing room and get started on the next project. Ciao for now!

Ruffle Me Pretty!

I’ve finally finished this dress and I am really excited about it!

IMG_6119

I purchased the beautiful floral print silk and cotton blend voile at Josephine’s Dry Goods and the pink silk habotai lining at Mill End Store back in April, as well as the McCall’s 7537 sewing pattern around the same time. I gently laundered the fabric and cut out the pattern fairly shortly after that, and that is saying a lot because many of my desired projects sit and wait patiently their turn in the sewing queue.

I eagerly got started on this dress as I had a special event for which I wanted to make this that occurred back in June. However, by the time the date rolled around for the event I was not even close to being done in time for the event, plus it poured buckets that day and I would have been miserable (not to mention way overdressed!) if I had worn it, so it wasn’t meant to be quite yet.

Usually, I don’t take too much time sewing up trendy garments, but something about ruffles just calls to my inner femininity and I felt that the pattern silhouette it was classic enough that the trend would stick around for at least a little while, so I went for it.

Here are some of my ruffle inspiration looks that I find to be quite appealing, super feminine and flattering:

 

As with most dresses or garments that carry the details at the top and near the neckline, this pattern took the most time and attention to make at the bodice and gathered waist band. This pattern is labeled “Advanced” on the envelope and I can agree with that rating as there are quite a few pattern pieces and more advanced sewing and construction details.

Looking at the pattern envelope, it is a little more difficult to see all these pretty details with the print of the dress she is wearing:

M7537_a

However, the line drawing shows these details clearly:

M7537 Line Art

I was immediately drawn to the feminine and girly silhouette of this dress! I love the sort of boho-chic, gypsy vibe this dress gives off. I think it would be amazing (although a total beeotch to sew) in a floaty silk chiffon, with or without the sleeves, made with all couture seams and construction (of course) and I believe would turn out a high end boutique-worthy frock.

So, I took to making this dress the best I could with the spendy fabric and luxe lining. I used French seams where ever I could, and took the time to sew by hand where needed.

It took many hours to carefully pin and sew the two separate ruffles, each ruffle consisting of three pattern pieces to be sewn together first and then hemmed with a micro-mini curved hem before attaching to the neckline:

M7537k

Then, a lined facing was attached over the two tiers of ruffles and slip stitched by hand to the inside of the facing. I don’t have a photo of this in process, but it took a great deal of time and ended up kind of bulky, uneven and wavy with all of those layers. I skipped the elastic loops and lace up ties since there was NO WAY I could get these tiny loops made from elastic thread to sew down. I then edge stitched around the inner edge go the neckline to try to tame the ruffles and keep them from sticking up too much.

I read other sewing reviews about this on my favorite go-to sewing website Pattern Review that claimed that the neckline on this pattern was a pain to work with, which I do agree with, and very low cut, but I find the neckline to be OK and not reveal too much boobage.

Next came the gathered midriff. This was not too tough to do, just getting the gathers even between the top and bottom of the midriff was the only real challenge. As a finishing touch, I’ll make tiny invisible tack stitches on these gathers in various spots to keep them from poofing out or shifting around. This is a little trick I learned while working in alterations at a bridal shop where many dresses and gowns had this technique done on gathered areas of midriffs and necklines.

I thought I might make the long gathered sleeves of this dress, lengthening them to wrist length to suit my liking, but then as the summer days in Oregon reached temperatures in the 100 degree range a few weeks ago, I couldn’t bare the thought of a long sleeve and decided to cut the little cap sleeves from view C of the pattern:

M7537 view C line art

Here is the bodice before and after I sewed on the sleeve:

 

 

The pattern directions have you just sew the sleeve to the armhole and press it towards the bodice, but I felt that this left a raw edge here that could potentially show and fray when worn (or hanging on a pretty hanger in a fancy boutique!), so I serged over the armhole and sleeve seam after sewing it and plan to tack it down at the under arm seam to keep in under control. I usually don’t like to serge seams and take shortcuts when I am making a dress as “couture” as possible, so if I were to make this pattern again in the future, I would most likely make a French or some other finished seam here.

Before the serger:

M7537d

Sewing the skirt and skirt lining was a breeze. I used French seams for the side seams of both, then attached the two at the top and part of the side where the zipper opening was. Attaching it to the bodice while gathering it to fit proved to be a tedious task, but I got through it carefully and slowly as not to have any uneven gathers or puckers here.

Next, I slip stitched the midriff facing (or lining, whatever you want to call it) over the skirt seam by hand. I usually really enjoy this step in making a dress, whether with ot without a waistline band, as it really finishes off the inside of the dress, and is usually near the end of the process. Here is the facing pressed under and pinned in to place ready to hand stitch in place:

M7537f

Putting in the side zipper was a little tricky since the seam doesn’t open all the way (the zip opening begins a couple of inches down from the armhole and extends through the midriff into the skirt), so it is a little difficult to maneuver the zipper in. The inside of the zip opening doesn’t look very pretty, so I might go back over this covering it with a binding to finish the edge and prevent stray threads from getting caught in the zipper teeth. I think I have enough of the lining material to make self binding over the zipper tape, that would be nice!

I hemmed the dress and lining just doing a fold and turn hem, nothing too crazy. Possibly an invisible hem would have been a little better for the outer skirt, but I don’t have my better sewing machine with the blind stitch foot and setting with me just yet (I’m in the process of moving and currently just have my “travel” machine at home with me), so I just made do with the turned under hem as shown here on the lining:

IMG_6111

A few things I wish I had done differently with this dress is to 1) make in seam pockets. That would have been great, and an easy add. And 2) I should have taken the time to make a muslin mock up, even if it was just the bodice and midriff, as I feel that it is a little short in the torso length for me, and slightly too tight. We will see how it wears and how comfortable it is. Otherwise, the dress is great and very pretty!

I really enjoy how this dress turned out after all, but am not 100% sure if it is a great fit (whoops, I skipped the muslin mock up and just compared my measurements to the pattern measurements), or of it’s a great look for me. It may end up becoming a one of a kind Love, Stephanie for sale garment, so prepare to possibly place your bids Kids!

 

 

Have a great day and thanks for stopping by!

Love,
Stephanie

Plaid Shawl Transformation into Throw Pillows

My friend purchased this lovely plaid fringed shawl (no, it is NOT Burberry!) and asked my to make some throw pillows out of it:

 

Plaid Shawl with fringe

Plaid Shawl with fringe

 

The pillows were pretty easy to make, however it did take some extra time to plan out the cutting in order to keep the fringe border intact and on the outside of the pillow edges and to get the invisible zippers installed correctly.

 

Normally making a pillow with fringe or a piped edge, you can just sew right sides together with the fringe or piping sandwiched between the two layers and facing to the inside, then it is turned right side out. However, this fringe was already part of the edge, so I opted to first sew the long sides, with the invisible zipper prestitched on, right sides together, but the fringed edges I top stitched them closed on the outside, close to the fringe:

Top stitching the fringed edge

Top stitching the fringed edge

Unfortunately, I was not able to match the plaid on the front of the pillows to the backsides which is a little disappointing. I would have needed more fabric to do this (probably another entire shawl!) or cut off the fringe from the shawl and reattach it as trim.

These pillows took about three hours to make, including the strategic cutting of the shawl and sewing.

Taa Daa!

Pillows with fringe

Overall, they came out really nice and make great accent pillows for a couch or a bed. I hope my friend enjoys them for years to come!

Plaid pillows with fringe

Plaid pillows with fringe made from a shawl

 

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

Vogue 8847 Silk Crepe Shirtdress

Vogue 8847 in Silk Crepe de Chine

Vogue 8847 in Silk Crepe de Chine

I made up this nice shirt dress in a nice Liberty silk crepe de chine print using Vogue 8847 pattern (now out print unfortunately).

Vogue 8847 pattern photo

Vogue 8847 pattern photo

Vogue 8847 line drawing

Vogue 8847 line drawing

It was not too bad of a pattern to sew, it took me a couple of weeks over weekends and evenings after work. The pattern features a stand up collar, open placket, self-lined yoke, long sleeve gathered into a barrel cuff and self belt. I chose to not add the pockets because the fabric I used was pretty light and delicate, and I thought that the pockets would just weigh down the dress, especially if I had my hands in them.

I made View A essentially for the collar style and the length of the dress, modifying the hem to be just straight across instead of curved at the front, split at the sides and straight at the back as the pattern features.

I added 2 inches to the front and back pattern pieces of the dress in order to have enough length in the torso and for the dress to “blouse” when I belted it:

Added 2" in length to the front and back pattern pieces

Added 2″ in length to the front and back pattern pieces

I cut out the pattern pieces of the dress as best I could, not really following the pattern cutting layout for view A, which calls for an insane amount of fabric, essentially 6-7 yards of fabric, if using a border print. I just went by view B to estimate the amount of fabric to purchase, more like 3 1/2 yards of 45″ wide material.

Instead of using sew-in or fusible interfacing, I used silk organza to interface the front facing and the collar. This was a great suggestion from the sales associate at Josephine’s Dry Goods, the wonderful fabric store where I purchased the material.

used in the front facing and collar pieces

silk organza used in the front facing and collar pieces as interfacing

I used hand basting with silk thread to baste the front facing to the front of the dress:

front facing basting stitches to mark the cutting line

front facing basting stitches to mark the cutting line

One part of the instructions were missing, the step between 11 and 12, where you are to sew the yoke back to the yoke front, attaching the front of the dress to the back of the dress, so that is something to take note of.

It took some time and careful pinning to get the gathers at the yoke just right:

Using many pins to gather the yoke.

I love how this dress turned out and am quite happy with the results! It is a lovely, casual yet elegant dress to wear and I just love this Liberty printed silk!

Back view of Vogue 8847 dress

Back view of Vogue 8847 dress

Side view of dress

Side view of dress

This dress reminds me of some dress styles that I have been saving in my sewing inspiration files like these:

Joie "Marlola" silk shirtdress $358

Joie “Marlola” silk shirtdress $358

Open placket dress Zulily

Open placket dress Zulily

DVF Silk Freya dress $398

Diane von Furstenberg Silk Freya dress $398

Printed shirt dress

Piperline Collection printed silk gathered shirtdress with pockets

I am sure I will get a lot of wear out of this dress, and would be more than willing to make it again:

V8847 side front

V8847 side front

IMAG3373

This photo really makes the fabric look blue!

Wearing my new silk dress!

Wearing my new silk dress!

Me enjoying my new fabulous silk dress!

Me enjoying my new fabulous silk dress!