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:

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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?!

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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:

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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!

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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!)

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My new dress is complete!

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She’s so twirl-worthy!

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I got a little dizzy twirling so much!

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This fabric!

Vogue 8766 pattern

 

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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!

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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:

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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:

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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:

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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:

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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:

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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

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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!

Short and Sweet Wedding Dress

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Impromtu Wedding Dress!

 

 

Katrina and Duncan got married! Yayyyyy!!!! They got engaged, then 6 weeks later, decided to tie the knot in a civil ceremony at the courthouse. She was pressed to find a wedding dress quickly, and thought of me and how fast I can churn out a nice dress.

She had a dress style in mind. She wanted a fit and flare short dress (this is wedding #2 for her, so this was an opportunity to wear an alternative wedding dress), nothing too fancy, but appropriate for the occasion. At first, I copied a really casual knit dress that she had in her wardrobe that she liked the fit, and traced out a new pattern, but then as we talked about materials and what she was looking for, a commercial pattern was a better choice as I knew that there was plenty of variety of patterns to choose from to make a nice little dress. We looked through pattern books and found this New Look pattern to fit the bill perfectly:

New Look 6262 pattern                         New Look 6262 line drawings

So we went shopping, but not at a bridal shop, but the fabric store. Fabric Depot in Portland, Oregon is the best store in town for bridal and special occasion fabrics. She fell in love with this lovely embellished ruffled tulle fabric:

Embellished ruffled tulle fabric

This fabric was perfect for the skirt! She wanted a solid top, so we found a perfectly matching off white satin to match.

The total cost of materials, including lining and a zipper, was about $30 (I had a coupon!). Awesome!!!!!

We didn’t have a lot of time to make this dress (one week actually), so I got to work immediately to make a muslin. I was done with tracing out the pattern, the cutting out and sewing the muslin within 2 hours, so the same day that we bought the fabric, I went over to her house to fit the muslin.

done in 2 hours!

muslin done in 2 hours!

She is tiny on the top, so I did have to take a good amount on the bodice back and front darts of the dress, but nothing too crazy. After making the fit changes to the original pattern, I cut out the fashion materials and lining. The original pattern does not actually have a lining included with the instructions, just facings at the neckline and bias binding at the armholes, but we needed a lining for this dress. Not a problem, I know how to line a dress.

So, within 5 days, I had the dress nearly done and just wanted to fit her before I put in the zipper and hem.

cute, but something is not 100% right with the fit of the bodice

cute, but something is not 100% right with the fit of the bodice

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The dress looked adorable on her, although I was not really happy with how the bodice fit. It bubbled out a bit at the top of the V neckline and stuck out. I must have done something wrong with the fit changes and maybe over compensated for something without adding somewhere else.

Well, she was OK and happy with it, and we were essentially out of time to make any changes, so we went with what it was. If I had more time, I would have remade the bodice.

So here is the finished dress on my mannequin:

added a satin ribbon at the waist

added a satin ribbon at the waist

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Not too shabby for a quick dress custom made in less than a week!

I found this dress on Pinterest that is a similar look, Ted Baker London selling at Nordstrom for $675!:

'Flawra' Rosette Detail Fit & Flare Dress

‘Flawra’ Rosette Detail Fit & Flare Dress

She was so happy, pretty and cute in her new dress for her wedding, and splurged on a fabulous pair of blue shoes to wear! Success!!!!

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Congratulations Katrina and Duncan and best wishes for a long and happy marriage!

Love, Stephanie