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planning the florida collection

planning the Florida collection

I usually decide what projects to make next with a few unsurprising factors in mind. Things like the weather and what fits into my lifestyle and what fabric I have in my stash often steer my sewing in one direction or the other. The mild Texas winters have kept me from making a tailored coat for years now, yet I’ve gone out of my way to make a couple tulle skirts and one of the most sparkly sequin skirts ever simply because I wanted them. Both are equally as practical as a wool coat in Texas but here we are.

Sometimes, an event or trip comes up that requires a little more thought and planning. Next month, Ty and I are going for Florida for a long weekend at the beach. It’s a company sponsored event for select employees based on performance in 2016, and I’m so very, very proud of Ty and his hard work. We are really excited for this little vacation.

There are a few events over the course of the weekend with a specific dress code, which means it’s time to make some new clothes. I was just about to dive into spring sewing when we found out about this trip, so I rearranged my production timeline a little, added a couple of items to my project list, and I was ready to hit the ground running. Luckily, we’re going somewhere warm where a lot of what I already had planned will be appropriate.

Besides a couple billowy tops with fun sleeves to travel in (interesting sleeve details are huge this year), I need a beach cover up, a sundress or two, an outfit for an afternoon of exploring Miami, and a cocktail dress. I can hardly believe this myself, but the one item I still haven’t finalized is the cocktail dress. I have the fabric, but I can’t seem to settle on a design. But, look! I already have the shoes and handbag. That’s progress, right?! This is a floral brocade from Promenade Fabrics. And yes, it’s on the pricey side, but what else is a girl to do with her birthday money but spend it on fabric for a pretty dress?

Whenever I sit down to plan a collection, I have a process in place to help me get organized and inspired. Because this is the first group of projects for spring, it was easy to dive in and get excited for bright colors and florals and linen and ruffle tops and sundresses and all the things that make spring the best season of all the seasons. I’m doing a lot of coral and white and the Pantone color of the year, greenery. My interpretation leans a little more Kelley green than the moss green of greenery, but I’m all in for the green this year. What a fun, refreshing color. I got 6 yards of this green gingham linen (yes, it’s linen!), so I can make a dress and a top. This Butterick pattern is new for spring, and I absolutely love it. Fabric can be found at Fashion Fabrics Club.

Whenever I make a list of projects, I always include pattern numbers or other notes about the design in my design journal. Most things are straightforward, like if I’m using a commercial pattern or my own. In some cases, it’s a combination of the two, which I call “hybrid” garments. Again, still a big question mark next to the cocktail dress.

I’ve posted about Vogue 8825 twice before (here and here), and it’s such a fantastic dress that I’m making it again in coral. I have a feeling the coral dress will be my favorite. Fabric is a rayon ponte knit from Mood. (Tip: rayon/nylon ponte knits are better quality than their polyester cousins, and they feel better too.)

One of the things I love most for spring and summer is linen pants. Like many of you, it’s been a challenge to find pants that fit properly. Enter, this Vogue pattern. I’ve had it for ages, and I even cut it out in ivory linen about two years ago. Never did finish those pants (now they’re a size or two too big), but I’ll finish this pair for sure. If making pants is something you’d like to get into, I’d recommend starting with a design with a wider leg. That way, there’s less fitting to worry about. This pattern is out of print, but I found it on eBay a while back. I like it because it sits at the natural waist, which is flattering on my body type. It’s worth finding, for sure. This fabric is 100% white linen from JoAnn. These pants and a pretty top will probably be my Miami outfit.

For one of the blouses and a sundress, I’m using this gorgeous floral sateen from Fashion Fabrics Club last year (sold out). I made a dress last summer and had about two yards left over to make a top. So, I’d say that worked out well. This fabric is magical. The pattern is another oldie but goodie, McCall’s 7163, and I cut view D, because I like my shoulders and upper back covered.

The last item on my list is a swimsuit cover up, and mine will be in the form of a skirt. I have a few scars to cover up (and I absolutely have to protect my skin from the sun) so my swimwear needs are unique. I got this incredible long sleeve one piece from J. Crew (and it’s my favorite color!), so my idea for the cover up is a flowy, swishy skirt. I designed a wrap skirt a few years ago, which I think I’ll use to make the cover up. I might add elastic in the back waistband for a little extra comfort. I found this star print rayon a couple weeks ago that I think, paired with the navy suit and gold sandals, will be the cutest thing ever. I also have a red swimsuit and rash guard, so it will work nicely together. It’s almost like I planned it . . .

You can find this fabric here.

That’s it! I’m about halfway finished with construction for these projects, so I’m making great time. Only a few weeks to go and we’ll be beach bound!

the florida collection

There’s nothing more rewarding in sewing then when a plan comes together, when weeks of thinking and organizing and fitting and cutting and sewing finally come together. In February, I posted my thoughts about a few new pieces I wanted to have for a trip to Florida. The trip has since come and gone (and it was fantastic!), and now it’s time to see, of the things on the list, what came together and what didn’t.

You know I love to sew in groups or collections of garments, and sewing for a specific event or trip is my ultimate project. It is so much fun! I always appreciate a collection with a clear and cohesive color story with coordinating prints, and this particular group is lacking in that respect. The blue top sticks out like a sore thumb and I’ve got three very different prints going on, but this project was more about specific garments for specific events, so from that perspective I’m very pleased.

In the planning post, I mentioned that I needed the following: a couple comfy tops to travel in, a swimsuit cover up, a cocktail dress, a couple of sundresses, and an outfit for exploring Miami.

Garments successfully made: tops, cocktail dress, sundresses, Miami outfit

Garments not made: swimsuit cover up

I had big plans for a wrap skirt swimsuit cover up in this yummy rayon challis, but time ran out before I could get to that project. (I ordered a navy sarong from Amazon and called it good.) As we got closer to the departure date I had to prioritize my unfinished projects, and this one got left behind. I’m okay with that though, because I think this fabric will be great for another project in a summer/4th of July collection I’m planning. Maybe a maxi dress?

I finished this dress first, and I wore it to dinner one night. I am completely and totally in love with this little gingham number, and it was perfect for this trip. It’s linen so it wrinkled quite a bit and required some ironing after we got there, but that’s okay with me. It was so comfortable, and I got loads of nice compliments on it. For more about this dress, see this post.

Full disclosure: I made this dress last summer. I knew it would be a great dress for this trip, and it was. I wore this to the welcome reception on the beach. Loved it. For more about this dress as well as a tip for a better fitting bust, see this post from last week.

I made three tops for this trip, all using the same pattern. This one is my favorite of the bunch. The floral trim is just so pretty! It wasn’t ridiculously hot in Florida yet, so I could still wear jeans and not be uncomfortably hot. My travel outfits and the exploring Miami outfit were the same: one of these tops, skinny jeans, a hat, and sandals. It was great. For more about these tops and a tutorial for the ruffle, see this post.

The cocktail dress: easily one of my favorite projects. I got more compliments on this dress than I’ve ever gotten on any other project, ever. So not only was I glad other people liked it as much as I did, I was proud to tell them that I made it. (You should have seen some of the reactions that got!) Read about the cocktail dress here.

This is by no means a sundress, but it came in handy for another dinner event. This is one of my all time favorite patterns, and this is fourth time I’ve made this dress. Read about the others here and here. This is Vogue 8825 in a coral rayon ponte knit from Mood.

I also planned to make a pair of white linen pants, and while I did make them, I didn’t take them to Florida. They didn’t really work with the tops I made, so you’ll see those soon with a top that makes a little more sense.

I was so excited to get pretty blog pictures on the beach (what a great opportunity, right?), but a funny thing happens when I get to a beach: I don’t care about pretty pictures. I’m much more concerned with how quickly I can throw on a swimsuit, get to the beach, and swim my little heart out. There were also a lot of people there, and taking selfies and blog pictures in front of a bunch of strangers isn’t my idea of a good time. At any rate, the trip was a wonderful, and I couldn’t be happier with the collection I made for it.

Now, on to more projects!

final grade: the cocktail dress

Don’t ever let anyone tell you sewing is a mindless craft. Those of us who endeavor to create and make know better. The mental acrobatics required to properly execute the tedious and challenging projects is one of the things that keeps me engaged and inspired to continue sewing. Because to settle for the easy projects all the time does nothing for growth and learning, and why bother if you’re not doing much of value or quality. This dress is one of those garments that required a little extra determination and planning and, just like every other project like it that has tested my patience, it was more than worth the time and effort. (Expect a few of those “easy” projects in the future, just to balance things out!)

A few weeks ago I mentioned that Ty and I were headed to Florida this month, and I was excited to make most of my clothes for our little weekend getaway. On Wednesday, I’ll tell you how successful I was in bringing my ideas to life, but today I’m thrilled to show you the cocktail dress I made for the awards reception. It came together beautifully, I felt like a million bucks in it, and I was comfortable all night (the ultimate trifecta!). I lost track of all the sweet compliments I received on this dress, which was just icing on the cake for me. (I think a lot of the compliments had to do with the fabric. It’s just so stunning!)

For more details about how I decided on the design and the sewing techniques I used on this dress, see the progress report from a few weeks ago.

The bodice is my own design I drafted using my slopers, to which I attached the skirt from Butterick 6129 (see the other skirt from that pattern here). The skirt on my cocktail dress is about 2.5″ shorter than the white damask skirt from January, and I like it a little better. I used the wrong side of the fabric on the hem band again, because it adds a lot of visual interest to the skirt and it’s a fun way to showcase both sides of the brocade.

There is 6″ wide horsehair braid in the hem facing, and I closed the hem band with a catchstitch. I did this for a couple of reasons: there is flexibility in a catchstitch that allows for movement while still being strong, plus I think it’s pretty. The skirt/hem band seam allowance is serged and pressed up towards the skirt to keep the hem facing from getting too bulky. Normally I would press all the seam allowances down into the hem facing and close it all up, concealing all of the seams.

I used Bemberg rayon to line the bodice and pink cotton to line the skirt. I wanted a more substantial lining for the skirt, which is why I went with cotton there. (Cutting and sewing rayon lining for the bodice was about all I could handle with that material for a while. It’s not a fabric I enjoy working with at all, I must tell you.) I sewed coral grosgrain ribbon around the waist of the lining, because it bugs me when the bodice and skirt linings are different colors. The ribbon makes it all look intentional.

And here we are at the awards reception. (The wind was so terrible that night, which made it impossible to get a good picture of the dress!)

I’m so proud of Ty and all of his hard work. He is the ultimate professional, and I’m so delighted his achievements were recognized. We had a wonderful time!