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!

Friday, September 9, 2016

Finally, a lemon dress! - Butterick 6582

I had thought the title of this post would be, "Chica in yellow meets Lady in Gold," as Prof. R. and I recently went to see the famous Klimt painting, "Lady in Gold," or "Portrait of Adele Block-Bauer I," at the Neue Galerie.  However, they didn't allow pictures.  Then we went mattress shopping, and as nice as the sales people were in Sleepy's on 6th Ave., it just wasn't picturesque enough in there for photos.

In the end, we settled for our backyard, AKA Soho.  Despite all of that, it's finally here!  I now have a lemon dress:

 This is Butterick 6582, my second version of this dress but my first of version C (first here).  The fabulous lemon fabric was purchased at Joanns on a recent business trip, breaking my New Year's Resolution of not buying any new fabric; but I just couldn't help it.  Really!  Ever since I saw the Kate Spade lemon dress back in 2014, I knew I had to have one.  However, you'd be surprised at how hard it is to find lemon print fabric.  When I spied this fabric, I had to make my dream of a lemon dress a reality.

Fun in the wind

Since this was my second version of this dress, it came together fairly quickly.  Because the fabric wasn't wide enough for the skirt pattern, I did have to add a wedge of fabric to the sides but it's such a busy print, I don't think it's noticeable, unless you hold the skirt out while someone takes a picture of it.

I purchased the belt buckle in a booth at a vintage mall with several other really cute cards of vintage buttons and pins.  I hope to incorporate these into some future makes.

We're still experiencing warm temperatures here in NYC, which is great since I have two things left in my summer queue before I begin my fall sewing.  I've been working to eliminate the stash, and have been on a cotton dress sewing binge, lately.

Hasta pronto!

Friday, September 2, 2016

La Loteria at Tea - Butterick 5603


Today we had tea for lunch!  When we were on sabbatical in London the year before last, we just had "tea," but here it's what Professor R. and I (well me - he likes the rarebit) occasionally have for "lunch."  I ate almost all of those sandwiches and teacakes.  My stomach is still bursting!!

This is my Butterick Retro 5603 in Loteria fabric purchased online from Joanns.  Yes, this fabric has reproductions of the mexican card game, Loteria!!  As children my brother and I played this to learn spanish words.  If you're not familiar with it, it's a bit like BINGO, but instead of numbers, the caller calls out different spanish words that are pictured on individual cards, like playing cards.  If the caller calls off a picture that you have on your card, you can mark it.  Four in a row wins - oh, fun times with raw pinto beans!

I've topped it off with my black and white fascinator from Sara Tiara which I purchased at the Portobello Road Market in London.

If you're looking for an easy to sew 1950's pattern, this is your little amiga.  You sew some long straight seams, create gathers around the bust, sew on some contrasting or self fabric for trim, insert a zipper and you're good to go.  I think I made this in a few hours over several days.  How long it sat around waiting to get hemmed is another story, though... ahem.

The back flows into a gentle V and the zipper is inserted on the side.

This weekend is a nice long three day weekend, so I hope to finish my final summer sewing projects for 2016.  The sewing queue for fall is growing!

Hasta pronto!

Tuesday, August 30, 2016

Sewaholic Cambie Chica at The Met

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Hola!  I've been sewing like mad and blogging not at all - until now.  This past weekend, Prof. R. and I attended a fabulous exhibit at the Met: Manus x Machina.  If you're in NYC and haven't been yet, I strongly encourage you to make the trip to view it.  It's just incredible!!!

In short, Manus x Machina explores the intersection of manual or "by hand" (manus in Latin) techniques with techniques more technologically related ("machine" or Machina in Latin) within couture.  The exhibit is arranged by the various Metier (trades) within the French couture world, e.g. Lace, Feathers and Flowers, Leather, etc.

Think laser cut leather strips manually connected with jump rings...

or a machine sewn dress with beading and sequins applied by hand.

The sequin detail is blown up and projected on the wall behind the dress.  Clever and cool!

Other beautiful creations included 3D printed collars or belts applied to hand sewn garments and beautiful lace and feather gowns.  There were also garments that featured good old fashioned embroidery, but lots of it.  Very yummy!!!

Examples of pleating - from the videos at the exhibition, it's a fairly manual process!

The showpiece of the exhibition is a Karl Lagerfeld for Chanel wedding dress with a 20' train.

The design of the gold pattern was drawn by Karl Lagerfeld! 

The dress is Renaissance in style but is made of scuba knit, which is so au courant.  The train features a gold lace like pattern with hand beading - YES, hand beading.  The pattern is projected on the ceiling so one can make out the beautiful detail.

Close up of the 20' train

Ceiling projection of the gold train pattern

For this outing on a really warm day, I wore my unblogged Sewaholic Cambie.

On the very crowded and windy rooftop deck of the Met!

I completed my Cambie last year towards the end of summer and was ambivalent about it.  What made me hesitant was the back.  The skirt is gathered with the back piece being almost twice the size of the front.  I thought it might make me have a bustle butt, but now I'm good with it.  What do you think?

Bustle butt in the foreground, Manhattan in the background

One of the things I love about this pattern is the top.  It fits almost perfectly right from the envelope!

I also really like the fabric I've chosen.  Yay parasoles!!!  It's Kanvas Cabana Umbrella Stripe Red from  It's a nice weight cotton designed by Maria Kalinowski but is no longer available. Sorry :(  I lined the top in red cotton batiste which makes it nice and cool for the warm summer days we've having.  And best of all, it has pockets!!!

Overall, I'm really glad I finally jumped on the Cambie train and made one of these.  I think of other colors and fabrics I'd like to use for future versions, but now I'm madly trying to squeeze in some last summer projects before beginning my fall/winter sewing.  Are you still sewing for summer or have you moved on to fall projects?

Hasta pronto!

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