Sunday, March 19, 2017

St. Patrick's Day 2017

Hello!  I love St. Patrick's Day!  Professor R. and I had a great party on Friday night.  At least I think it was great since guests didn't leave until after 3:00 AM!  You can never predict how a party will turn out, but we agreed that this was one of our funnest.  Yesterday was spent on recovery, lots of recovery and clean-up.  Of course, I made a new dress just for the event.

The pattern used was the Sewaholic Cambie which I modified to make strapless (I'm not really counting the ribbon as a strap) with a circle skirt.  With this make, I finally executed on something I've been wanting to do since I first made this pattern last year.  The bodice was such a great fit on me, I was hoping that it would work in a strapless version, and it did.

Here I am at the party with one of my favorite guests:

Construction-wise, I opted out of boning in the bodice - I just didn't have the time (read that as lazy) - but I did interface the bodice pieces and sewed in stay tape around the top edge.  It's also fully lined, even the skirt.  I tried on the basted dress with my pink crinoline petticoat underneath, and it definitely showed, so the lining helped eliminate the pink coloring coming through the skirt.

To create a strapless bodice, I just cut the back of the pattern straight across at the underarm, and sewed it all together as per the instructions - minus the sleeves.

The circle skirt is the skirt from Simplicity 1651 (OOP), which I have used numerous times before.  It's just the right amount of circle and swirl.

I was inspired by this dress on Pinterest:

In my inspiration photo, it appears that the green trellis of flowers was woven into the dress.  I tried putting strips of the clover fabric from top to bottom, but it just looked too weird.  In the end, I opted for a sash with a purchased faux carnation to accent.

And of course, I retained the pockets!

All in all, this was a fairly easy and fun make - just a good no fuss all around great sew.  I'd like to explore making this again as a strapless dress in a floral or striped fabric for summer.  It'll have to wait though as I still have some winter sewing to complete!

Hasta pronto!

Wednesday, October 12, 2016

Viva Las Vegas! - Decades of Style Siren Sundress

This past weekend was a special one.  It was my eldest sister’s birthday, and the three sisters, sewchica mama and one of my nieces all descended on Las Vegas to celebrate!  Viva Las Vegas!

Because it was nearly 90 degrees outside and because I have a very indulgent and patient big sister, I got to wear and get photographed in my last make of the summer, Decades of Style’s Siren Sundress in "Flamingo Hotel" fabric by Nicole Miller for Joann's.

  We just couldn’t resist heading to the Flamingo Hotel for a photo op.  

And wouldn’t you know it, they didn’t disappoint – they’ve got a live flamingo habitat! 

It wasn’t quite pushing and shoving to get in front, but we did have to wait our turn several times.  I also had to crop out people who just didn’t understand the importance of blog photos!  Who knew that others love flamingos as much as I do!

Back view with flamingo gawkers cropped out of the shot.

I also couldn’t resist the flamingo swag!

A few notes about the dress.  As others have mentioned, there is an issue with gaping at the neckline, and it’s hard to make a muslin of this dress to test the fit.  The long straps are what you pull over your shoulders and criss cross in the back then tie around your waist in the front to secure it.  I didn’t realize it, but it does make a difference with the skirt attached.  Since I didn’t know this going in initially, I just muslined the top, thinking it would show any fit issues, but it did not.  I guess this dress is technically a wearable muslin.

To remedy the gaping post cutting, I pulled in the neckline ends of the bodice fronts where they meet the skirt.  I had to pull in about 1 ½ inches, but you can see in the picture below that there is still some gaping on my left side.  If I were doing this from the beginning, I would take a dart out of the center fronts of the bodice pattern to correct the fit, then proceed with cutting.  Since it’s too late for that, I will go in and put a stay of clear elastic at the neckline to cinch this in a little more.  I think this will help a lot.

Regarding the fabric, it was a little slippery to sew since it’s a silky polyester with a little stretch in it.  I lined the bodice and skirt with some stretch cotton purchased in the NYC garment district.  It’s just a little heavy for this make, but I think it works okay.

Close up of this fun fabric!

Overall, it’s a fun dress to wear, and I look forward to perfecting the fit next spring.  For now, I’m on to tackle my fall sewing list!  It’s getting chilly in NYC.

Hasta pronto!

Thursday, September 22, 2016

I've found my midi! - Simplicity 8086

I found my midi!  I finally found a midi skirt pattern that fulfills my wish list in a midi skirt.  Who knew it was hiding in a dress pattern?  Simplicity 8086 by Cynthia Rowley, skirt view A is my new go-to midi pattern:

My new midi with a purchased white top.
I’ve been looking for a midi skirt that hits at the right length for me, while having enough fullness and volume without overwhelming my frame. 

I love the sleeves on this top!

This pattern is just a rectangle that’s pleated to take in the fullness, which makes it easy to sew.  However, because that rectangle has just the right amount of fabric, it works perfectly as a midi.

Because this is a dress pattern (to be blogged separately), I did have to add a waistband.  I did the tied and true straight, interfaced rectangle, cutting it extra wide for a 50’s aesthetic. 

With the left over scraps, I made Burda #114 – a crop top from the June 2016 issue.  

I eliminated the lower bottom band in the top pattern so there would be some bare midriff between the waistband of the skirt and the top.  To test the fit of the pattern, I cut the lining first and used it as a muslin.  I adjusted the fit of the muslin/lining in the center back, by taking in ½ inch.  In the shoulders I needed to eliminate about 1½” from the back straps because it was so baggy around the back armhole area.  Cutting away this amount in the back strap area, really improved the fit.  

When I cut the top from the fashion fabric, I just shaved off ¼” on both sides of the center back piece and then eliminated the 1½” I knew needed to be taken out of the back straps.  

Because of the number of pieces in this pattern, there are lots of places to make fitting adjustments.  Overall, I think I ended up with a fairly nice fit.

Let’s talk about the fabric.  This is Tommy Bahama’s, Swaying Palm indoor/outdoor fabric that I purchased on ebay.  It is most definitely home dec fabric, and is the opposite of soft and drapey – more like bark cloth.  Against the skin, it’s rough and super itchy, even after a warm water wash and a machine dry.  But, I had to have it, and this print was nowhere to be found as apparel fabric.   I figured once in my hands, I could make it work. 

So how is it that this chica can wear this fabric, especially in a top so form fitting, without feeling like I’m having an allergic reaction?  The secret is lining!  I lined the skirt, the waistband and the entire inside of the top with white cotton fabric.  I mentioned how I cut the lining for the top above, but for the skirt, I just cut a rectangle of fabric, sewed the side seams and gathered it.  I then basted it to the inside of the pleated fashion fabric, then sewed the waistband on, catching the top edges of both the skirt and the lining within the waistband.  This outfit is all rough and scratchy on the outside but nice and soft on the inside.

It's a bit wrinkled on the inside - I can't stop wearing it!!!

This skirt just rocked my summer wardrobe!  I’ve worn it every chance I’ve gotten, and I love how it can be dressed up or down, depending on my mood and whatever event I’m attending.  If only summer were just a little bit longer so I could wear this outfit even more.

Hasta pronto!

Wednesday, September 14, 2016

Never Say Never - Sew Chica Sew on Vacation

I said I would never, ever travel to Europe with a backpack as my luggage.  I would always carry compact but chic luggage having all of my necessities and fabulous outfits at hand without looking frazzled.  Well as the saying goes, "Never say never."  Look at this:

In preparing for Prof. R's and my July vacation to Croatia and Northern Italy I was inspired by the Lady Light Traveler website.  Why not travel for 2 1/2 weeks in Europe with nothing but a carry-on and a shoulder bag?  Well, I did it!!  How did I achieve this feat?  I created a capsule wardrobe for the trip, using Lady Light Traveler and The Vivienne Files for inspiration.  If you're not familiar with this concept, a capsule wardrobe is basically a collection of garments that interrelate with each other.  In order for the items to work together, the colors of each must coordinate.

I started my wardrobe based on core colors, black, white and orange.  And here it is in total (all clothing to the left of the orange and skull print pareo is me made):

5 tank tops - 2 me made, McCall's 7127 and McMalls OOP 4514
2 me made skirts - Simplicity 1500 and McCall's 6694 now OOP, skirt only
1 pair of me made pants (these are quick dry pants that I made for our trip to Thailand in 2014 - pre-blog)
1 skort previously blogged here
1 purchased long sleeve t-shirt
1 gifted linen blouse used as "sweater"
2 LBDs - 1 me made, Simplicity 1652
1 purchased pareo
1 pair of walking shoes
1 pair of super light tennis shoes
1 pair of black flip flops
1 pair of walking sandals
1 pair of rhinestone super comfy evening sandals
1 old RTW bathing suit
1 sun hat

Not pictured:
1 purchased hoodie
1 purchased orange sweater
1 gifted white and black polka dot scarf

There were so many mix and match possibilities that I didn't get bored with my clothes during the trip, and because of the variety, I was able to dress appropriately for every occasion.

"Want to go bike riding on the Stari Grad in Hvar?"

" Well yes, I'll just throw on my black skort and white tank top."

Ice Cream in the foreground, bike in the background

"Yes, I'd like to go to the outdoor theater in the castle in Dubrovnik to see Hamlet.  I'll just put on my little black dress, my rhinestone wedges, my dangly necklace, and I'm ready to climb up the hill for the show."

After I check out the porn sculptures, of course.

"Oh, I need to cover my shoulders to enter the cathedral?  No worries, I'll just pull out my pareo to wrap over my top half."  Etc., etc.

The pareo also provided protection from the blazing hot sun!

Besides all of the clothing working well, carrying such a light load turned out to have some advantages.  I'm glad I didn't try pulling a roll-aboard up these steps:

There were also times on the trip where the chivalrous Prof. R. carried my pack and his roll-aboard, and gone were his complaints about my bringing too much!

Here are some additional ways I wore these separates:

Hiking in Plitviches, Croatia

Hiking in the Dolomites, Italy

There's apfulstrudel and beer waiting for me at the top!

The fort in Hvar

The market in Split

My favorite outfit of the bunch was the palm tree two piece skirt and crop top set.

At the Roman amphitheater in Pula

Our hotel in Pula

I fell pretty hard for this fabric from Girl Charlee and just had to have it.  I have to say, this set is the only part of this wardrobe that I wasn't tired of after vacation, and I wore it several times over the summer.  This outfit just makes me feel summery and fun and reminds me of "playclothes" we used to wear as children.  The skirt pattern, Simplicity 7500, suggests wovens but this knit worked well.  I just eliminated the zipper and pulled it on - I didn't even add elastic.  Super easy!  This fabric has such nice recovery, it doesn't get stretched out of shape pulling on and off.

For the top, I shortened the pattern to the length of a RTW top that I like.  I loved the pizazz this outfit added to my mainly solid colored wardrobe.

Since we're big on going out at night, coupled with the fact that I like to dress up; I had the 2 LBDs but by pairing the me made black skirt with the me made black tank I made another LBD outfit.  I was set for any and all evening events!

McCall's 7127 on top and 6694 on bottom

The trip itself was amazing!  This was our first time in Croatia, and we loved it.  The people are really friendly, the food is really good (trust me, we had quite the sampling) and there's enough amazing sights to see without it being overwhelming.

The second part of our trip we spent in the Dolomites in Northern Italy in conjunction with Prof. R's conference.  During his free hours, we hiked, I took a cooking class (all in Italian - it came back!) and we ate some more.

One of the best parts of traveling: making new friends

More new friends

Cooking class in Italy.  It was sooo good!

For our last night we feasted on Stinco di Maile, Schweinshaxe or Pork Knuckles!

I just have a few more summer related items to sew (we had a high of 90F today!), then I'm on to some fall projects.  What did you do for your summer vacation?

I defeated the Lannisters and gained the Iron Throne!

Hasta Pronto!

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