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Category: style

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!

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!

the gingham dress

I really can’t say it enough: I love gingham. For whatever reason, I didn’t use it very much until this year, but after discovering the fabric for this Butterick dress I made in March I can’t seem to get it out of my head. It’s such a happy print, and nothing else reminds me more of summertime and America and classic, timeless style than gingham. Today I’m finishing a red gingham dress, and then I’ll have a fun little trio of gingham dresses. So maybe a matching skirt and blouse set will round out the collection for this year? Yes, I like that idea.

The dress in today’s post came to me one afternoon, after I finally found the perfect navy blue gingham. I found it at fabric.com, and it’s not a poly/cotton blend, which I especially like, and I also like the size of the checks. I like prints that aren’t so small that they essentially look like a solid color and not so large that they’re overwhelming. This 1″ gingham was the perfect size for this project. I can’t quite remember what sparked the idea for this dress, but it’s possible I saw something somewhere that inspired it. All I know is that once I had the idea, I couldn’t get it out of my head. And, I can say this with complete confidence, this dress will make the “hits” list at the end of the year. It is exactly the vision I had in mind, it’s easily one of the most comfortable dresses I’ve ever made. It also felt good to use my slopers and execute my own design. I love the convenience of commercial patterns and I’ll never stop using them, but every once in a while I need to design something on my own. It’s what I know, and I enjoy it.

I wanted something that tied in front, but anything remotely skimpy or revealing was out of the question. I also needed a dress with full back coverage so anything strapless or spaghetti straps wasn’t an option either. Sometimes you’ll find a dress or top with a tie element, but it’s pieces of fabric sewn into a seam that ties over another part of the garment. For example, in my research I saw a button front top with ties that came from the side seams and tied on top of the button placket. I didn’t want that. I wanted the tie element to be functional, not decorative.

To achieve the bodice I had in mind, I drafted a fitted bodice with a midriff and shaped pieces that tie in front. When I have an idea like this, I often start my search in a commercial pattern catalog, in case there’s something similar that I can adjust to save time. I never did find anything that would have worked, so I made the pattern myself. This was the best way to go for this project because it let me control every design detail without having to test too much or worry about the fit.

I outlined my idea on the dress form and used that as a guide for the pattern. This step just gives me a nice visual for style lines, seams, and specific measurements like width of the ties or shoulder seam.

After drafting the first pattern, I made a muslin on which I noticed only two fitting adjustments that needed to be made. I pinched out a little excess fabric under the bust, and made a slight swayback adjustment. Here you can see the midriff and bodice pinned where the fullness needs to be taken out. (And, gah, my apologies for such an icky picture!)

The muslin on the form:

My pattern pieces looked like this: 

Lining the entire top bodice piece would have made the ties a bit bulky and difficult to tie, so I had to get creative with the lining. The ties could have been lined in rayon, for example, but I didn’t want the lining to show anywhere. That would have been distracting. So, the lining extends far enough into the ties so that cups can be sandwiched in between, but it ends in a spot that keeps the ties free from an extra layer (and you also never see the lining from the right side of the dress).

Here you can see the lining pattern on top of the bodice pattern that shows where it ends.

And here’s how that looks in the dress itself.

I had a pair of cups hanging around in the studio for ages, so I just used what I had on hand. You can find these at JoAnn. I just tacked the cups into place underneath the lining.

Once I decided that the ties wouldn’t be lined I had to figure out how to finish the edges, but I knew I didn’t want a narrow hem. So, I frayed the edges. Just having frayed edges on the ties didn’t make sense to the continuity of the garment, so I cut the selvage off of my fabric and continued that detail around the entire neckline and the armholes. I’m particularly crazy about this part of the dress. It’s so darling!

The skirt is a simple full circle skirt pattern, and there are side seam pockets. The skirt lining is a half circle pattern (no need for a full circle lining), and I used bemberg rayon to line the skirt. This gingham fabric is very “cotton-y”, and a cotton lining would have gotten bunched up under the skirt and not allowed it to move and flow like it should.

I let the dress hang on my dress form for a day to let the bias settle. Then I leveled the hem so that everything would be nice and even. For more information on leveling a hem, see this post from last fall.

I wore this dress in Nashville last week on the day my mom and I went fabric shopping and had lunch. I got lots of comments on this dress, and the ladies at the fabric store especially liked it. They also appreciated the sewing and time it took to make it. Every once in a while if someone compliments something I’m wearing I’ll respond by saying, “Thank you, I made it!” Then, I get the enjoyment of seeing their reactions, because sewing your own clothes is still one of those things that most people don’t think about. Usually, they’re so shocked they have no idea what to say. Isn’t it funny when that happens?

I cut the midriff pieces on the bias, because I liked the visual of the print going in a different direction around the wait. It interrupts the placement of the gingham in a way that isn’t distracting or overwhelming.

There’s this cute little flower truck that parks in spots all around Nashville, and it happened to be close to where we were that day so we had to check it out. Adorable, right?

My parents and my brother live in Nashville, so I like to go visit them a couple times a year. We had the best week together! The fabric store I mentioned is Textile Fabrics Nashville, and I would encourage you to go there if you’re ever in Nashville. They carry the most beautiful things, and I stocked up on some delicious linen for some summer projects and a plaid shirting that I think will make a pretty shirtdress.

I’m happy to home and back at work. I missed my studio, and it felt really good to crank up the sewing machine on Monday. Have a great week!