There’s nothing more fun than the challenge of putting a collection together, and for how much I go on and on about how much I love it I sure don’t have a chance to do it very often. I blame all the pretty fabrics out there – it’s too easy to get distracted and work on individual, unrelated sewing projects. But this, this collection with TÉLIO fabrics, has been nothing short of incredible, and it’s the most fun I’ve had sewing all year. It’s given me the opportunity to add a few new things to my closet in some truly exceptional fabrics, but it’s also challenged me to think about a group of projects as a whole: the color story, the prints, how each piece makes sense next to one another. And the dresses in today’s post in this series really highlight all of that. The best part? We still have two weeks to go!
Over the past few weeks I’ve mentioned that my inspiration for this fall collection was the lemon print sateen. It’s the anchor of the collection, and it’s what I used to determine the other colors, textures, and prints. I knew going into this that I’d be using it twice – as the anchor print it’s nice to see it more than once. The marigold lace (although I’m thinking it’s more “buttercup” than “marigold” after studying it for the past month) is two things: it’s a happy pop of color and also an interesting texture in an otherwise smooth group of fabrics. I went with this particular shade of yellow because it picks up on the darker yellow in the lemon, not the bright, sunshine yellow that really stands out in the print. It’s a little more subtle and a better fit for a fall collection.
The lemon print sateen (the Bloom Sateen Print 38203 -04) is available at EmmaOneSock Fabrics, and the yellow Amelia lace is available at Sew Much Fabric. Fabric.com also carries the Amelia lace in six colors. (That royal blue is stunning!)
The Amelia lace is a nylon/cotton blend, and it’s lightweight but not too delicate. I wanted to make a classic dress that showed off the beautiful scalloped edge, and I also wanted to underline the lace to make it pop a little more. I cut a dirndl skirt so that the hem was a totally straight edge and hemmed the underlining to just above the highest point of the scallop. This way, you don’t miss the scalloped edge, but the underlining isn’t an odd length – and it still does its job of adding a little more volume to the lace.
One of my favorite dresses of all time is this dress in a large scale floral with lots of blues and greens. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve worn it, and it’s because of that and other reasons that I decided to use this lemon print and make another version of that dress. This is one of those dresses that just makes me happy because it’s so my style and such a beautiful print. I drafted a full circle skirt on to the bodice from Vogue 9197 and fully lined the dress. I lengthened the bodice by about 3/4″, and the skirt is 27″ long. I added a facing to the neckline, because I think it looks a little more high end.
Many of you know my penchant for making multiple versions of a pattern, when the pattern is really, really great. Well, Vogue 9197 has had a mighty great run in the last year, but it’s being retired to the archives now. It’s an excellent pattern with lots to love (the fit, the perfect sleeve, the French dart in the front, the fact that you can draft any skirt you want on it), but I’m good with four versions of it – especially because each of those dresses have been and will continue to be worn for a long, long time.
I’m so excited about the last two looks in this series, and I think (I hope!) you’re really going to enjoy seeing them. Next week’s dress is a return to knits, and I’ve used a brand new pattern to bring it to life. Then, for the big finale, I’m doing cocktail separates that are probably the fanciest, prettiest special occasion looks I’ve ever made for myself. I can’t give too much away just yet, but I will tell you that there’s almost 20 yards of fabric involved. And don’t forget that TÉLIO is hosting a weekly giveaway of all the fabrics I’m using, so follow them on Instagram and watch for the contest post. That’s one of the most fun parts of this for me – I love seeing you guys win pretty things!
I can’t think of a single color I don’t like. I definitely have favorites that I wear a lot, but it’s hard to think of a color that I make a concerted effort to avoid or that I just don’t care for. I’ve spent a great deal of time looking for fabric in just the right color over the years too. Navy must be rich and dark, not vintage or faded looking, yellow should be bright without being gaudy or cheap looking, and reds should be true red – not too orange, not too blue. Emerald is also a color I love, especially for fall, and it’s a color I think I wear well. (After a summer in lots of white, I’m reminded thanks to all the pictures I take that white is actually not a great color on me. So, moving forward: less white, more bold colors. Hold me to it.)
I found this fabric shortly after discovering the lemon print fabric for my fall collection series with TÉLIO. The moment I saw it I not only squealed with delight at having finally found the perfect shade of emerald, but I also knew it would work exceptionally well with the lemon print, the small scale polka dot, the marigold lace, and the pine ponte knit. (You haven’t seen the ponte knit yet but it’s good. Really good.) The emerald plays up the leaves on the lemon print so nicely, and it’s nice to have that color as an accent with the other fabrics.
The fantastic part about this fabric is that it is in stock at fabric.com. It’s 100% Viscose Rayon, 56″ wide, and it’s machine washable.
Rayon (also called viscose) is made from wood pulp, a naturally occurring, cellulose-based raw material. I like it because its characteristics are similar to that of linen and cotton, and it is beyond comfortable to wear in the Texas heat. I love the drape of viscose batiste or challis, and it’s easy to work with and launder. It also retains color well, which is why you can find such rich colors in a rayon fabrication. It doesn’t pill unless the fabric is made from short, low-twist yarns (I’ve never had a rayon that even remotely pilled), and it doesn’t build up static electricity. Rayon does, however, wrinkle so loose fitting garments are best (full skirts and dresses, flowy tops, and scarves). Bemberg rayon is also a fantastic option for linings. I choose it over polyester or acetate every time.
This particular rayon is a batiste, so it’s especially lightweight and drapes exceptionally well. It’s opaque enough to forgo a lining, which is great. Use a little extra care when you cut it out, because it can be a tad slippery (no edges hanging off your cutting table!), and I would also pin your pieces together in one or two additional areas as you sew it just to ensure it doesn’t move around. I used a size 70 universal needle, all purpose thread, and I serged all the raw edges. French seams would also be lovely. I let the dress rest on the dress form overnight to let the bias fall, then I leveled it and hemmed it.
I used an out-of-print pattern, Butterick 5878, and I replaced the tiered skirt with a full circle skirt for the most movement. I’ve made this dress twice before, over a year ago. It’s easy to sew, and very, very comfortable. I especially love the elastic around the waist.
For those of us in warmer climates where seasons take their sweet time arriving (or don’t change at all), color is a great way to dress for the season without layering or piling on coats or things that don’t make sense for the weather. So this emerald viscose makes for one seriously pretty dress, and I can ease my way into fall without looking or feeling ridiculous. Considering how much I love this color, I’m surprised that this dress is the first garment in this color I have in my closet. I think I’m looking at a fall season jam packed with emerald green!
Whenever someone asks me what I like best about my sewing machines, I always say “the possibilities.” I love the stitches and capabilities and cool new features, but a good sewing machine is what helps bring ideas to life. That perspective, looking at things through the lens of further developing an idea or elevating a project from the original idea, is how I approach my projects, and it’s also how I’m approaching my partnership with HUSQVARNA VIKING® this year. I want to not only show you these incredible machines (and I’ve known how amazing they are for a long time now), but I also want to emphasize the features and things they can do that really take your creativity to the next level.
This summer, I get to sew my projects on the DESIGNER TOPAZ™ 50, a sewing and embroidery machine that is only two models above a machine I own, the DESIGNER TOPAZ™ 25. So, it’s been a real treat to play with the 50, because it immediately felt familiar to me, only with a few updated features that make it really sing.
The DESIGNER TOPAZ™ 50 does a lot of amazing things, but the first thing that captures your attention is the fact that there’s no lever behind the presser foot. The presser foot is raised and lowered with the start/stop button, but also when you tap the foot pedal. That small detail is a life changer! There’s also a button that cuts your threads when you’re finished sewing, and big, bright LED lights that illuminate the sewing area really well. Look how bright that is!
There’s an Interactive Color Touch Screen which I found to be very easy to navigate, especially during the embroidery projects. The Exclusive SEWING ADVISOR® feature optimizes your sewing by selecting the best settings for you and giving you on-screen advice, and the unique EXCLUSIVE SENSOR SYSTEM™ technology senses your fabric thickness for perfect, even feeding. Sensors in the machine let you know when your thread and bobbin are getting low, and you can even wind and replace a bobbin mid-embroidery. This was something I discovered for myself during a test of the stars in the picture above. A message popped up telling me the bobbin was low and the embroidery came to a half. You simply hit the button that says “bobbin position” which moves the embroidery hoop out of the way so you can retrieve the empty bobbin, rewind it, and put it back in. Then, you press the start button and the machine takes you right back to where it left off. I know I’m relatively new to the embroidery game so you experienced pros might be chuckling at this, but I was completely and totally floored. Simply amazing.
If you’re like me and your sewing projects center around apparel or accessories, there’s nothing this machine can’t do for you. Like the DESIGNER JADE™ 35 I had this spring, the DESIGNER TOPAZ™ 50 does all the basics, but this machine comes with even more built-in stitches and embroidery designs. It can do everything from automatic buttonholes, blind hems, and overlock stitches to belt loop stitches (how awesome is that?! we all know how thick things can get when you attach belt loops) and elastic/casing stitches and teardrop and standard eyelet stitches. All told, there are more than 250 stitches and 150 embroidery designs and 2 embroidery fonts on the DESIGNER TOPAZ™ 50.
You get an embroidery sampler with the machine with pictures of all the embroidery designs too, which is great. This is one of my favorites, and it’s a composite of a bunch of smaller designs. And remember, the colors are up to you. You can go with the original colors, go with one solid color, or change the color story completely. Endless possibilities!
You get two hoops with the machine: the DESIGNER™ Splendid Square Hoop (120 x 120) and the DESIGNER™ Royal Hoop (360 x 200). I used the smaller one for the tests I did to decide on design and color, and I used the big one when I started executing the project I’m working on, which you’ll see in a couple weeks. (I’m using the PREMIER+™ EXTRA embroidery software to bring this idea to life. But more on that later.)
The big hoop in action:
The little guy:
One of the embroidery designs that comes with the machine is for a pair of earrings. And yes, I know how awesome-out-of-this-world that is. Earrings! I’ll show you how to make these (it’s super easy!) in a couple weeks in the projects posts for this machine, but here’s a sneak peek. How fun!
Here’s what I want you to know about the DESIGNER TOPAZ™ 50: it is incredible. This machine would be great for established seamstresses or sewing professionals, and is especially nice for those of you interested in some serious machine embroidery. You’re already set up for success with the 150 designs that come with the machine, but the options are really endless when you consider the Design Positioning feature that lets you join large embroideries with perfect placement every time, and the Embroidery Design Editing and Save features that enhance your embroidery creativity and allow for a more personal and precise result.
Overall, I’m just really, really impressed with the DESIGNER TOPAZ™ 50 . I’ve made a lot of things on this machine (which you’ll see in a couple weeks), and not once did I run into something that the machine couldn’t do. I’m also dipping my toes into embroidery more and more, and some of my ideas are more advanced than just a simple design centered on a piece of fabric, and I feel really confident in my being able to execute them because of this machine. The best part is being able to press the start button and then work on other tasks while this smooth operator hums away in the background taking care of business. Multitasking at its finest.
I love that it comes with two hoops, and I love the huge sewing area and the long embroidery arm. Threading it is a breeze, and telling the machine what I want it to do is as simple as pressing a button. Gone are the days of manual adjustments and stressing about tension. Things like that matter when you’re spending so much time in front of a sewing machine.
As always, special thanks to the kind folks at HUSQVARNA VIKING® for allowing me to officially champion the brand this year. It’s so much fun! In a couple weeks, I’ll be showing you all the things I’ve made on the DESIGNER TOPAZ™ 50 and you’ll see my big embroidery project and the earrings in all their glory. Until then, have a look at this machine, and the next time you’re in a big JoAnn store with a dealer, stop by and play with the machines, including this one. You won’t be disappointed!