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Category: sewing

buttoned up: vogue 9182

A few weeks ago I set a lofty goal to make quite a few new pieces for summer. With it hovering around 100 degrees here almost daily now, I’m in desperate need of clothes to help me survive the heat. So, long gone are the projects with full linings and zippers and sleeves. In their place are all the things I not only love to make but will also get a lot of use out of this season (hello, linen and floaty dresses and swishy blouses and wide leg pants!). The two dresses in today’s post are certainly on that list.

I have a standing date with my pattern stash every couple of weeks, where I look for inspiration or pull a pattern that has been patiently waiting for its turn to be whipped into something pretty. I can’t remember when I bought Vogue 9182, but I think I’ve had it for quite some time and I stood out to me during a recent dig through the stash. I’d been hesitant to use it because it exposes a little more skin than I’m used to and for a long, long time I was averse to anything sleeveless. Well, I’ve finally kicked the “I can’t wear sleeveless things” silliness, and to get a little more skin coverage I simply raised the back pattern so it covers my back completely.

The red gingham is from Fabric.com, and the creamy white linen is from Textile Fabrics in Nashville. It’s a Ralph Lauren linen suiting, so it’s quite substantial and weighty. I have enough of it left to make an embroidered jacket later this summer. Excited about that.

I initially wanted to make the red gingham version to take to Nashville last month, but time got the best of me before I could finish it. As soon as I got home, I not only finished it but turned around and made a second version because I liked it so much. (And I got the perfect fabric for it in Nashville, so the stars aligned.) Maybe it’s the buttons or maybe the full skirt (maybe both?), but this dress is just dreamy to me. I love it.

I only made a few adjustments to the pattern for the red gingham dress: a swayback adjustment and I raised the back pattern pieces for full back coverage. I also combined the back and side back pieces so that the back bodice piece could be one single piece. Because I was short on time I skipped making a muslin which, as you well know, is not something I normally ever skip. I knew, based on the finished garment measurements, that the dress would fit nicely and any small adjustments could be made later. I was happy with the fit of the red gingham dress, but for the white linen version I raised the side seams for more coverage under the arms and shaped the front princess seams for a more flattering fit.

This is what the back pattern pieces look like after the adjustments were made. And, again, I would usually trace my tissue pattern pieces on paper and make adjustments from there (to avoid messing with the tissue), but time was not on my side.

And here’s how the back looks on me. I have the coverage I need, and it’s nice and smooth because of the swayback adjustment. You can also see the difference raising the side seams under the arms made to the white dress. I raised the side seams by 1 1/2″, and I think the additional coverage is a little more flattering.

And the front pieces:

The skirt for this pattern is a full circle, and I went with the longer length in view B, which is 31 1/2″ from the waist. Both skirts needed to be leveled (more info on that here).

Matching the pattern on the gingham dress was a task that made me go a little cross-eyed, but I’m happy with the end result. I told myself I wouldn’t be using any gingham or stripes or plaid for a while after this, but what did I do but turn around and start working on a madras plaid shirtdress. I’m a glutton for punishment, I guess.

I keep referring to this as “white” linen, but it’s really more of a creamy vanilla or eggshell white. I like that because it will transition to fall nicely, especially once I make the matching jacket to go with it. I love linen so very much, and this fabric was a dream to work with. I’ll have to get video of this dress in motion eventually, because the way it moves it just stunning. And tons of fun to wear.

I included a waist stay on both dresses, which snaps together underneath the button extension. It does its job beautifully, because there’s no pulling around the waist where the dress is buttoned. That can happen sometimes with shirtdresses or any kind of dress that buttons closed even if it’s the right size, but the waist stay eliminates that.

Anytime there’s a facing in a garment that isn’t attached to a lining, I like to not only serge it but turn it under and edgestitch it too. It hides the serged seam nicely, and makes the garment look a little more professional and high end.

Pockets.

If you’re looking for a summer dress but your version of a sundress is more like mine (I need a wee bit more coverage), I recommend this pattern. I really love making buttonholes and sewing buttons. It’s a refreshing change of pace sometimes, even though my machine really does all the work for the buttonholes.

I think both of these dresses will serve me well this summer and beyond. The white linen dress is a little more dressy, so it might become my summertime date night dress. And you know I love gingham, so the red number will be worn a lot. Sometimes I know when it’s time to walk away from a particular print or color for a while, but I think my heart is set on one or two more gingham things. Probably a blouse and a skirt. Then I’m done, I promise. Almost for sure.

Have a wonderful weekend, and I’ll be back next week with more summer projects and a new “how to” post. Lots of fun things coming up!

sewing magic with the DESIGNER TOPAZ™ 50

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!

wrapped in white: vogue 9251

This time one year ago, I didn’t have many things in my closet, and I certainly didn’t have many handmade items yet. I spent the summer in a store-bought, white lace skirt with an elastic waistband which I paired with a men’s button up shirt that I tied around the waist. I would throw on a hat and sandals and that was my main summer uniform. It was pretty much all I had at the time, and it was the closest I could get to cool and comfortable. It wasn’t until later in the summer that I made a dress that replaced the skirt and shirt look. That dress also reminded me of the joys of elastic around the waist (so comfortable!), so I predict more of the same this season.

You see, it gets really hot here in the summer, like really hot. I can’t be walking around town in fitted dresses with big skirts and full linings. I’ve tried, and it doesn’t work. So this time around, I will be investing some time into pieces that are more suited for our (sometimes unbearable) Texas heat. That means a lot more linen, a lot more pieces that aren’t so fitted and formal, and a lot more things that aren’t fully lined or are only partially lined.

When the Vogue summer collection was released a few weeks ago, I instant fell in love with three of the designs, one of which is the dress in today’s post. (I also love 9253 and 9257.) This dress is elegant in its simplicity, and it’s so delicate and subtle. I love the sleeves, and I also love the personality in the skirt with the shaped hemline. Lots of bloggers and fellow makers have already made this dress, which only further inspired me to whip up one of my own. I have a few rayon challis prints in my stash that would have been a great fabric option, but I kept going back to the idea of clean, white linen. I’ve gone on and on and on about a few fabrics and prints lately (hello, gingham and stripes!), but I can’t overstate how much I love linen too, especially in the summertime.

Linen is not listed on the pattern envelope as a suggested fabric, but I knew it would work. I used a medium weight, 100% linen so it gave me a little more volume in the sleeves, which I like. I made this dress to take with me to Nashville last week, and I finished it in plenty of time. That’s the beauty of a quick sewing project! To be fair, I crammed a lot of sewing into the week prior to my trip, so I skipped a step I normally would never skip, and that’s making a muslin. I got lucky this time because it fits well and I like the overall look of the dress, but the bodice is 1.5″ too short for me. Not a huge deal, and I’m probably the only one who notices it, but I will lengthen the bodice for the next go round. And there will be a next go round, I can promise you that.

I wore this dress the day we went to the botanical gardens. I’ve been to Nashville countless times, but this was my first visit to Cheekwood Estate & Gardens, and it is well worth the visit if you’re ever in Nashville. It’s gorgeous.

I opted to leave off the ties in the dress and went with a snap closure instead. I wanted the option of wearing a sash belt or leather belt, and the waist ties would have gotten in the way of that. A sash belt is really all I can get away with though, because a regular belt only emphasizes the shortness of the bodice and I look a little stumpy.

Without the ties, the edges were a little messy, so I added a piece of grosgrain ribbon to conceal that. It’s also a nice backdrop for the snap.

The sleeves are so pretty!

Pockets.

I made my own bias tape for the neckline. Made yourself or store bought, I love this finish. It’s so clean looking, and it’s easy to do.

You can see the fold of fabric under one side of the bodice, which is the clearest indication that it’s too short.

I’ve already adjusted the bodice pattern and one of my weekend projects is making this dress again, this time in a rayon twill print (it’s sold out, sorry about that). I’d really like to see those sleeves in a lighter fabric with more drape. I’m also toying with the idea of drafting a fuller skirt without the shaped element, simply because rayon twill is too much fun to twirl around in, and you lose a little of that with the skirt as it is.

If wrap dresses are your thing, or you just like this dress I can’t recommend this pattern enough. Just keep an eye on the bodice and lengthen it if you need to. Stay tuned for the next version, and have a wonderful weekend!