Monthly Archives: April 2013

A Pair of Laurels (just in time!)

I had every intention of finishing my Laurels with plenty of time to spare before the end of the contest, but here we are on deadline day, and I just finished them both yesterday. Oh well, it looks like I’m not the only one – there are a ton of pictures being posted last-minute to the flickr pool! I remember seeing a quote posted on some advertising sign many years ago that said something to the effect of “If it weren’t for the last minute, nothing would get done”. So true!

When the contest was first announced, I was so excited to be able to take part in a sewing related event, but I wasn’t too crazy about the silhouette. I normally go for more fit and flare type styles, so I decided to take in the waist for more shaping and add a bit to the length so I feel more comfortable. I’m happy with the result, and I think it still pushes me outside of my comfort zone.

The Practice Laurel

I made my first Laurel out of some undyed organic cotton (maybe muslin? I’m not sure) that I’ve had for years. I played around with the fit for ages trying to get it right. After a while, I realized I could just add front darts from another dress that fit, so I added darts from the Cambie (post coming soon – I finished this one before the Laurels, but I haven’t had time to post about it because of the contest). I lined up the waistline and the center front and it worked perfectly! I experimented with drafting facings, but in the end decided to just line the whole thing with cotton voile since I didn’t want any stitching lines to show on my final version.

Organic Cotton Laurel

Pattern: Laurel by Colette
Fabric: Undyed Organic Cotton (maybe muslin? not sure) and Organic Cotton Voile lining in white from Organic Cotton Plus
Size: 0
Modifications: Added front darts, took in back darts by 0.5″ each, took in side seams by 0.5 “, chopped 0.5″ off around armholes, added 0.75″ in bodice length above bust, added 1.5″ in length at waist, added 1” to skirt length

I added a tab belt to add some interest around the waist and I left all of the darts open below the waist.

Laurel Tab Belt

Tab belt with shell buttons

side pockets with decorative stitching

side pockets with decorative stitching

laurel back view

It was all looking good until I decided to add some decorative top stitching to my practice version. It stretched out the keyhole at the back so now it looks kind of wonky.

Then I decided to add some keyhole cutouts to the skirt. I thought it would look neat to have the sheer white voile in the cutouts to show a little bit of texture and add interest to the plain colour. I stitched around the edges to hold the layers together and keep them from fraying, and used tissue paper on the bottom to stabilize everything while stitching, but it ended up looking really messy. I just couldn’t go around the curves smoothly. Maybe it’s something that just takes practice.

wonky decorative details

wonky decorative details

I still like the idea, but I think next time I’ll do the top stitching and cutouts all by hand with white embroidery floss for extra impact. And maybe it would look better with two colours that contrast more.

Laurel 2:

When the contest was first announced, and I saw that there was a category for self-designed fabrics, I thought that was perfect. I’d been meaning to design some fabric and have it printed on spoonflower (I even had their $1 colour sampler swatch already), so this was the perfect opportunity! There wasn’t enough time to order a proof and still enter the contest, so I had to guess on the darkest colour. I was aiming for a deep sapphire or navy, but it came out purple. I think it still works, but I will definitely be investing in a full colour sampler for future spoonflower projects – and there will definitely be more!

I decided to do an ombre design since the straight lines of this pattern allow for a large pattern repeat. So I did an ombre ikat design that reminds me of raindrops. You can find the design on spoonflower here. I had it printed on their Organic Cotton Sateen.

Ombre Ikat Raindrop fabric

Ombre Ikat Raindrop fabric

Laurel Ombre Ikat

Laurel Ombre Ikat
Fabric: My own design printed on spoonflower’s Organic Cotton Sateen, and Organic Cotton Voile lining in white from Organic Cotton Plus
Pattern/Size/Modifications: Same as practice Laurel, but I took out the side seams and back darts slightly since the first one was a bit tight.

The keyhole turned out better on this version without the top stitching.

back keyhole detail

back keyhole detail

Practical side pockets

Practical side pockets

tab belt

tab belt

I think I’ll redo the tab belt. It’s a bit too small so it’s pulling the dress a bit at the waist. Plus I think it would look better a bit wider and with better top stitching 🙂

hand-stitched hem

hand-stitched hem

Ombre Ikat Laurel

The full-length pictures don’t really show the pattern very well – the close-up shots are much more accurate. But, in the end, I’m happy with this one!

A Basic Renfrew

Not the most exciting item, but a closet staple. A basic white tee. Except this one is made of super-soft organic cotton 🙂

A Simple Organic Tee

A Simple Organic Tee

A bit wrinkly in the back – I probably should have taken photos at the beginning of the day…

Fabric: 100% Organic Cotton Jersey from Dressew in Vancouver
Pattern: Renfrew by Sewaholic
Size: 6 on top, 0 at waist and hip

I added 1″ to lengthen the bodice at the waist, and chopped 2.5″ off the bottom. I’m actually really happy with the fit of the top overall. It looks exactly like the other versions I’ve seen around. For the next one, I might take in the waist by 1″ on each side for a closer fit. This fabric is quite sheer in white, so I think the looser fit works on this one.

This was actually my second attempt at the Renfrew. The first was a total disaster. I used a thermal/waffle knit and it stretched out by about 1.5 times in width! The neck is wavy and falling off my shoulders – and it’s not even comfortable! Total fail. I blame the fabric combined with my lack of knowledge about waffle knits…

renfrew mods

1″ added to bodice, 2.5″ chopped off bottom

inside view

inside view

seams

seams

I do have a serger, but I can’t figure out how to adjust the tension for knits, so I used a scalloped edge to finish the seams. I think I actually like it better than serged seams. It’s softer and kind of pretty! So what if it doesn’t look store-bought? Handmade is awesome!

Update: I used stretch stitch G in the following photo:

finishing stitch for knits

A Cozy Maxi Skirt

What could be cozier than a jersey maxi skirt? I have a closet full of “dressy” items, but I end up wearing ratty sweatpants all day since I work from home. They’re comfortable, they’re cozy, and they’re ugly. Enter the jersey maxi. As comfortable as sweatpants (comfier, in fact), but dressy enough to leave the house in without feeling like a total slob. Win-win! I plan to make a bunch more of these.

Organic Cotton Jersey Maxi Skirt Organic Cotton Jersey Maxi Skirt

Pattern: generally followed Megan Nielsen’s tutorial for a jersey maxi skirt

Fabric: 95% Organic Cotton, 5% Spandex from Dressew in Vancouver

This should have been the simplest project of all time, but it was way more difficult than the Tiramisu Dress just because of the fabric! I fought with this stuff the whole way through. It curled, it moved, it grew, and it rejected all forms of order. The hem still flips up. I started out trying to do a separate waistband with a gathered skirt, but the waistband grew by over 6″ as I sewed it! So I just kept it simple and tried to wrangle the fabric into submission. Oh well, it’s grey, so at least it will go with everything. Plus, it is super-soft and cozy.

Carnival Socks

Carnival Socks

Carnival Socks

Carnival Socks

Carnival Socks

Carnival Socks

yarn

Yarn: Malabrigo Silky Merino in Arco Iris (51% Silk, 49% Merino)
Needles: 3.5 mm
Pattern: my own, Ravelry notes here

A simple design for crazy yarn! The colour is a muted rainbow that reminds me of an old-fashioned carnival. Two parallel lines of lace spiral up each sock (mirrored). I did my own seamless cast on at the toe and a short-row heel.

This yarn is so soft! The silk makes the socks slouch a bit, but I think it’s a fair trade-off for soft luxury 🙂

A Teal Tiramisu!

I made a dress! My first sewing project since high school, which was, well… let’s just say a while ago. I had every intention of joining the sew-along, but life got in the way, so I feel like I’ve been working on this dress for two months!

teal tiramisu dress

Fun to twirl in!

teal tiramisu dress

back of teal tiramisu dress

teal tiramisu dress

Pattern: Tiramisu Dress from Cake Patterns
Fabric:
Organic Cotton Jersey in Teal from www.hartsfabric.com
Size: 30C with modifications
Modifications:
Combined skirt pieces and back pieces to remove center seam
Cut skirt and back straight instead of on the bias
Removed 3 cm from each of the front bodice pieces to open up the neck
Removed 3 cm from each side of front and back midriff pieces
Added a waist tie

tiramisu dress modifications

3 cm off each side of front bodice pieces to open up the neck

tiramisu dress modifications

A little off the back to blend with front

tiramisu dress modifications

3 cm off the front and back midriff pieces to get a better fit in the waist

Now that I look at the list, it seems like a lot of changes for a first knit dress, but I’m happy with how it turned out. The seams are a bit wonky, so I won’t show you those ; )

My biggest challenge was trying to do the hem with a double needle. I could not for the life of me work out how to get the stitches not to skip. I googled the problem, and tried all of the suggested solutions, including tissue paper on the top, and then on the bottom, but nothing fixed the problem completely. So after spending hours picking bits of tissue paper off and ripping out the hem twice, I decided to just leave it and do a regular straight stitch hem. It’s not like it needs to stretch anyway.

Then I washed it, and the hem became completely uneven! I thought hanging it for a day would be enough to settle the dress before hemming, but I will definitely be washing all knit projects before hemming in the future – lesson learned!

This fabric is so deliciously soft – I want to make an entire wardrobe out of this stuff!