Watercolors in Silk

I just love a great watercolor painting, how the colors softly flow into each other, creating emotion with how they blend together to evoke a mood.

Speaking of Mood, the renown fabric store in New York, Los Angeles, and online at MoodFabrics.com, the store where the Project Runway design contestants run around like chickens with their heads cut off trying to find fabric, trim, notions and inspiration (and hopefully a lucky Swatch sighting), all within a ridiculous 30 minutes, is running a series of contests using their fabrics. I thought how fun it would be, and also a challenge for me, to order some silk and whip up something for their MoodMadeSilk18 contest by the deadline of today, April 30th, 2018.

I went ahead and ordered 2 yards of this gorgeous watercolor floral silk chiffon and was even happier when it arrived!

IMG_E8948

Isn’t it SO pretty?!

I gave it a gentle wash and laid it flat to dry, then got to smoothing it all out perfectly on grain and ready to be cut:

IMG_8951

I thought this would be a perfect fabric for this pattern view A from McCall’s that I had recently acquired from their new Spring ’18 collection:

M7747_a

Pinterest is one of my favorite resources to find inspiration and ideas for sewing (also for cooking, art and other ideas). I found a couple of flouncy cold shoulder tops and pinned them for inspiration and thought, “I could make something like that, easy!”

floral cold shoulder long sleeve top                                             coral flounce cold shoulder top

So, I proceeded to do just that!

By taking measurements of the flat pattern and comparing them to my own body measurements, I knew that the torso would need to be lengthened in order to not feel too short on me when done, so I altered the pattern and added one inch to the front and back pieces using the “slash and spread” method (sorry, that sounds kinda dirty) before cutting the top out of fabric:

With the top only being a few pattern pieces, it went together fairly quickly, not including the pain-in-the-assery of working with silk chiffon, of course. For one thing, I had to carefully mark the wrong sides of the fabric as I went along so that I didn’t sew them incorrectly:

IMG_8973

Plus, make French seams on most seams since the fabric is so sheer and frays like a beeotch:

IMG_8982

sewing seam part #2 of a French seam

I decided that the fabric of the top was SO sheer that I would feel indecent prancing around in this with all of my “stuff” showing underneath, so I ran out and bought enough additional silk chiffon in a deep navy to layer under the print to create some opacity:

The top took me a little over a week to completely cut out and sew in my free time, so that was not too bad. I love the flounce and halter neck, and the fabric most of all on this top.

As for pattern changes, I left off the elastic at the waist, and didn’t add the zipper as the pattern suggests as I think that would be too much weight for this super delicate and sheer material. I also skipped the facing and sewed the lining in it’s place for a much better finish to the edge and to combat some of the sheerness.

IMG_8983

Detail of the French seam made on the flounce piece

I am not 100% sold on this pattern as I feel the fit is a tad “off” and the cold shoulder is really, really cold showing so much skin. It is way too big in the underarm as it turns out and shows off a good deal of side boob here. Making a dart here to take up some space is not going to work on the finished top (note to self: make more pattern alterations in this area, and maybe try a muslin too, before cutting into spendy materials like this, silly girl Steph!) so for now, I think I’ll make up a coordinating bra or a panel on the side to avoid any wardrobe malfunctions…

DSC_0315

Don’t look now, but your side boob is showing…

I finished the top just in time to throw it on, slap on some makeup, do something to tame (or tease?) my crazy hair, and have my sweet and patient man snap some photos of me to post on my Instagram with the hashtag #MoodMadeSilk18 to enter the contest by the deadline. I would love to win the $100 gift card to Mood as the winning prize, but there are some other amazing garments that sewists have made with silk from Mood for this contest, so I wouldn’t be upset if I didn’t win. Just making stuff and challenging myself is fun for me!

DSC_0325_2

DSC_0327

 

THANK YOU MOOD!!! Say “hi” to Swatch for me!

Advertisements

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