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the midcentury traveler + a little dirndl skirt tutorial

12 May

vintage may 3 starts today!

Jess and i are excited to kick the festivities off with projects for our little gals.  i’m calling my look “the midcentury traveler.”   my imaginary backstory is that E is getting ready to catch a train to go summering back east with her grandparents in the late 1950s or early 1960s.

twirly pocket skirt tutorial

and guess what?  she’s taking her best friend with her!

twirly pocket skirt tutorial

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catnap cargo duffle (with mini tutorial on how to add a lining)

30 Jan

it’s kid’s clothes week right now, and i normally love sewing for KCW.  in fact, i’m pretty sure i’ve sewn in every KCW since 2011!  the community is so inspiring and it usually makes me feel so good to sew a pile of clothes that my kids will wear throughout the next season.  however, i’m skipping this one because this week i have deemed “baby prep week.”  my kids are pretty good on clothes, but i do not yet feel ready for baby.  so this week i am focusing on changing that, because it seems to have snuck up on me that he’ll be here VERY SOON (like probably in just a couple/few weeks).

DAY 1 of baby prep week: organize, wash, donate, lend out old baby clothes and gear.  spent all evening on that, and now i have clothes for him to wear that aren’t tucked away in bins in our basement.

DAY 2 of baby prep week: sew a hospital bag.

catnap cargo duffle bag

this is one of those projects that made me feel simultaneously so happy and also a little silly/crazy.  i absolutely did not need to make this bag (i have a perfectly good weekend bag) but i also NEEDED to make it (in the way that certain gals NEED to sew tiny Beat it Jackets with 20+ zippers).

I JUST HAD TO.

(click to keep reading)

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ristretto dress tutorial

11 Jul

i’m still enjoying my stint as a Britex Guest Blogger, and today i’m sharing a dress i made using Britex’s Smoke & Coffee Stretch Cotton, which i reeeally loved working with.  this dress is actually a remix of my favorite dress pattern, Made by Rae’s Washi Dress, and though as i sewed it i was calling it “Frankenwashi,” i came up with a prettier moniker for this dress now that it’s all done.  named after one of our favorite coffee shops – i’m calling it the Ristretto Dress!

ristretto dress tutorial

my favorite sewing challenge is to take a proven, great-fitting, well-written pattern and modify it into something new.  i do it when i sew for my kids all the time, but haven’t ventured into doing it for myself too often yet.

ristretto dress tutorial

when i ordered this fabric, i expected to make a skirt.  but once i got it, i loved it so much i decided squeeze a dress into it.  this is made out of just 2 yards of (56″ wide) fabric!

i started with the Washi Pattern, since the bodice fits like Rae designed it just for me, and a million different dresses can be made once you have a favorite bodice.  for the Ristretto, I changed the neckline to a v-neck, lined and lengthened the bodice, added pleats at the shoulders, added a full gathered skirt, and eliminated the shirring at the back (though you could still shirr it for a more fitted bodice – mine is pretty loose without the belt).  i love the little extra cinch at the waist that a belt provides, though, and i think the dress is barely recognizable as a Washi!

ristretto dress tutorial

those changes may seem like a lot of extra steps…but i promise it’s not that hard.  in fact, eliminating the bias tape save so much time, i daresay this might even be a quicker sew than the original!  and i’m here to walk you through it.  let’s go.

ALTERING THE WASHI PATTERN

ristretto dress tutorial

use a straight edge to lengthen the bodice to hit you at your natural waist.  for me, that was about 3″ longer than the original pattern.  then angle your ruler to lengthen the bottom of the dart line downward to meet the new bodice line.  extend the fold line 3″ down as well.

ristretto dress tutorial

to create the v-neckline, i measured 1/2″ up from the bottom of the U cutout line on the washi pattern and marked it (i like a pretty deep v-neck, but feel free to mark higher up – whatever makes you feel comfortable).  then angle out from your point, gently curving up to meet the original shoulder line.  i played with this a bit until it seemed like the right shape.

for the back bodice, add 3″ to the last shirring line and taper the side seam to more of a right angle versus flared out, if you’re eliminating shirring like i did.  as a warning, i found the back skirt/bodice was too full to make my original idea – elastic casing – look right, and it might look similarly odd with shirring.  i opted to use the belt to cinch in the waist instead.  back darts may help if you don’t want to belt it – might take some experimentation.

SEWING THE RISTRETTO DRESS

ristretto dress tutorial

sew your lining’s darts and shoulder seams.  i could’ve taken my side seams in a bit more, and almost think i could’ve sized down on the dress entirely. i recommend making a muslin or using your lining as a quick muslin at this stage, to make sure the dress will leave enough room for you to slide it on, but isn’t too loose.

sew your main bodice like you did the lining.

ristretto dress tutorial

place the bodices rightsides together.  measure 1/2″ down from the point of the V and mark it with a disappearing pen.  this will give you a precise pivot point when you’re sewing the neckline.  pin generously and sew.  once sewn, trim straight down into the seam allowance at the point (not clipping the seam) and trim the rest of the seam allowance to 1/4″.  understitching is a good idea here.

ristretto dress tutorial

next, sew the shoulder seams.  because the Washi is not open in the back, you can’t just sew the shoulder seams flat – you won’t be able to turn it right side out (ask me how i know!).  instead, go watch THIS VIDEO SERIES by Rae on lining the Washi Dress.  video #4 is the one that addresses arm holes, and the one that taught me the amazing “sausage technique” that i’ll definitely be using again.  you can sort of see it above, but watch the video to fully understand.  then trim the seam to 1/4″ and clip into the seam allowance to release the curves.

ristretto dress tutorial

turn rightside out and press, and you’ll have perfect, frustration-free armholes!  glorious.

ristretto dress tutorial

next, separate the lining from the bodice and sew front to back lining and front to back main in a straight line.  turn right side out and press.  this is another good place to test fit.  if too wide, you can easily open it back up and sew another seam in from your first – i had to do this on mine to pull up the armhole and bring in the bodice a bit.

ristretto dress tutorial

now prepare your skirt.  i cut the fabric selvedge-to-selvedge in two 25″ long panels for this dress.  this particular stretch cotton is 56″ wide, so that is one full skirt!  i knew it’d look nice since it’s a cotton/rayon/lycra blend and those blends give it a lot of drape – with a less drapey fabric, a less-full skirt might be a better idea.  sew up the short side seams.  sew two rows of basting stitches on both the front and back, stopping at the side seams, and gather.

ristretto dress tutorial

match the bodice to the skirt, right sides facing, and carefully sew together.  press seam allowance toward the bodice.  remove basting stitches.  hem skirt to your liking (i folded up 1/2″ then 1″).

ristretto dress tutorial

fold your lining under and pin so it covers the raw edge of the skirt.  either stitch in the ditch on the right side of the dress (where bodice meets skirt) or handsew the lining down.  then, after trying on the dress, i decided the shoulders looked too wide with the v-neck, so I made a simple pleat, folding out toward the shoulder and stitching in the ditch (seam line) to secure.  the shoulder pleats add a nice formality to the dress that i love.

ristretto dress tutorial

this dress is very comfortable, since the stretch cotton has a lovely linen-esque feel to it, and has a weight and softness that makes it ideal for skirts and dresses.

ristretto dress tutorial

i love the smokey gray color with a hint of brown, and i love that the skirt is substantial enough that it doesn’t need lining.

ristretto dress tutorial

bonus: it’s perfect for twirling!  i want to go to a wedding now so i can dance in this dress!

ristretto dress tutorial

you can follow along with lots more projects from my fellow guest bloggers over at the Britex blog (my posts are here).  and if you want to get your hands on this lovely fabric, stretch cottons go on sale July 15!

thanks (once again) to my husband for getting these fun “magic hour” photos, and thanks so much for always sending me the most beautiful fabrics, Britex!

britexblogger

vintage may: flap pocket skirt and tutorial

13 May

today is the first day of Vintage May! i’m having fun sewing for myself lately, so i thought i’d kick the series off with a vintage-style skirt that i could make look retro or modern, depending on my mood. it’s a current-day pattern with a twist to add the type of special detail you’d expect to see in vintage clothing…a flap pocket. and i’ve included a little tutorial on how to easily modify any pant/skirt pattern to do this yourself!

flap pocket skirt for vintage may

first, a little about the skirt, which i sewed in Anna Maria Horner’s beautiful “coordinates in saffron” cotton from bolt. i love this print and had been saving it for a special project – this fit the bill nicely. wouldn’t it be so gorgeous in field study linen too? love that stuff.

flap pocket skirt for vintage may

the pattern is simplicity 2226, a basic, inexpensive, easy-to-find pattern which i bought back when Anna did a sewalong! i sewed a size 14 but should’ve taken her advice and sewed a size or two smaller to get more waist cinch. it’s comfy as is, but waaay bigger than my store-bought skirts (i’m usually a 6). the pattern instructions are really well-written though – i’d never sewed a non-indie pattern and i was pleasantly surprised at the clarity of it! i sewed view A without belt loops and added an extra 1″ in length just to be sure it hit me below the knee.

flap pocket skirt for vintage may

so i knew i wanted to make a skirt but didn’t know what era to go with. i googled “20s skirts” and “30s skirts” and “40s skirts” on up…aside from the more flowy, flapper-esque look of the 20s and the more structured look of the 40s, there didn’t seem to be TOO much in terms of everyday-type skirts that would make you say “that skirt is from THIS decade.” i made this skirt to have a ’30s vibe (which to me is more casual than the decades surrounding it and slightly art deco) but people i’ve shown say it has a 50s/60s look…so i don’t know.

flap pocket skirt for vintage may

i guess it’s kind of a “know it when you see it” type deal – styled like i typically dress, it just looks like a normal skirt. styled with red lipstick and vintage silk headscarf with a tucked-in cardigan, it’s a throwback (especially when you stand next to a beauty school door).

flap pocket skirt for vintage mayanyway, onto the pocket tutorial! this is the same method i used for sam’s shorts in moonrise kingdom film petit, and it’s easy but adds a pretty neat detail. the pattern comes with your typical curved front pockets, so this tutorial is to show you how to modify those.

: SUPPLIES :

  • pants/skirt pattern with front pockets
  • point turner / chopstick / knitting needle
  • 1/4 yard (or fat quarter) of contrast pocket lining fabric
  • two buttons
: METHOD :
first, lay out your pattern’s skirt front. see the scooped line for the pocket on the far left? use your ruler to extend the top and side lines to meet at a 90 degree angle. this will become your flap.
flap pocket skirt for vintage may
fold down the corner until it looks like a good proportion to you (in my case it was 6 inches) and mark those spots. add a notch at each mark.
flap pocket skirt for vintage may
overlay the pocket back pattern piece and add notches to match. cut two “backs” from your contrast fabric and two from your main fabric. i ended up trimming the pocket back and lining pieces more to a slightly wider square shape versus the rectangle indicated in the pattern, since i was lining it in a contrast fabric and didn’t want to fold it back on itself as the pattern instructs.
flap pocket skirt for vintage may
sew contrast lining fabric to skirt front with 3/8″ seam between the notches, backstitching at both ends and pivoting at the corner. clip corner and turn flap right side out, pushing to a point with your point turner. clip into the seam allowance at the notches to release the flap so it can fold out of the way as you sew the rest of the skirt. then with the flap folded down and the skirt wrong side up, place pocket back over the lining and sew around the inner two edges (in the photo below i’m folding the fabric out of the way so you can see right/wrong sides, but you’ll want to sew it matching the edges – NOT folded up). finish the inner edges of the pocket via zigzag or serger.

Screen Shot 2013-05-13 at 12.14.57 AM

then working on the right side, baste top of the skirt and side so the pocket stays put as you move on to gathering the front, sewing the side seams, and adding the waistband.

flap pocket skirt for vintage may

continue to sew the skirt as indicated. at the end, sew the button on to keep the flap down and add visual interest. mark 1/2″ from each edge, then sew your buttons between the flap and inside of pocket only (not all the way through the skirt – gotta get your hand in there!).

flap pocket skirt for vintage may

and you’re done!

flap pocket skirt for vintage may

now go hit the town in your new skirt, girl!

flap pocket skirt for vintage may

i never wear a red lip, this was actually my sister in law’s gloss and i felt pretty sassy wearing it…!

flap pocket skirt for vintage may

and a huge thanks to my husband who took these pics and put up with my compulsive overdirection. ;)

vmcinobutton (2)

alright! now you KNOW you want to see Jess’ adorable little gal in a vintage-inspired gingham “romper” over at Craftiness is Not Optional…here’s a sneak peek! she is WAY TOO CUTE.

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back tomorrow with our first guests!

scoop top free pattern and tutorial

26 Apr

As a part of my guest blogging gig for Britex Fabrics, they recently sent some of their new knit fabric to try out! I was really excited to see that Britex is now offering knit fabric online, and for this project I picked out a super cool Japanese tissue knit with scribbles all over it. I thought it’d be a great fabric to turn into a simple tee using my favorite J.Crew shirt as a launch point, with plenty of my own modifications to get the perfect fit.

And because I want to share the love of my new favorite shirt all over blogland, I thought I’d offer a FREE PATTERN along with my tutorial today!

scoop top pattern & tutorial

I’m calling it the Scoop Top. It’s a scoop neck women’s t-shirt with a french/dolman sleeve. It’s fitted through the bust but then flares out a bit, giving it a really flattering and comfortable fit. I’m offering this free pattern in a size small/medium (since it’s knit, it’s pretty forgiving, size-wise).

scoop top pattern & tutorial

PATTERN

Download the FREE Scoop Top Pattern

Please note: This pattern is untested (except by me) and it is offered in only one size. It’s also the first time I’ve ever digitized a pattern, so please don’t expect perfection! I’m happy to answer questions about it if you ask nicely. This pattern is for personal use only. I reserve the right to refine, grade it to different sizes, and charge for it it sometime in the future. In the meantime, Go To Patterns’ Casual Lady (affiliate link) has a similar fit in a full range of sizes and proceeds go to a great cause.

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