Hello and Happy Wednesday! I’m so happy to be back with you in a more “regular capacity” today after a wonderful few weeks in the zone with TÉLIO and HUSQVARNA VIKING®. I must begin today’s post by sincerely thanking you for a few things. I’m grateful you’re here and reading and following along, but I’m also thankful for your kindness and support. A few opportunities have presented themselves to me this year, and I’m so appreciative that I can embrace those things knowing you’re still interested and cheering me on. There are a few things I need to address from previous posts (underlining, hem facings, waistbands, swayback adjustments, etc) and I promise we’ll get to all of it soon. I have plans for new tutorials and projects to finish out the year, and I will go over your questions in the coming weeks. Keep them coming! Thank you also for your messages and prayers when Olivia died a couple weeks ago. The pet lovers out there know all too well how much our dogs and cats mean to us, and I was touched by your thoughtfulness. I will write a little more about that at the end of the post.
But first, let’s talk about a couple dresses, the first being a piece that will be at or near the top of my “hits” post at the end of the year. You know how you can work steadily on projects and love each one, but then one project comes along that is so good, so you, that it makes you stop in your tracks? That is this dress. I made two other versions this summer, but I always wanted a third in the maxi length. The project didn’t come together until I found this tissue weight floral rayon crepe at Britex Fabrics in San Francisco when Ty and I were there in July. I remember seeing the fabric for the first time, rolled up neatly in the middle of dozens of other rayons with its soft, pastel colors and beautiful floral print basically calling out to me. It’s the most expensive rayon I’ve ever bought (by a long shot, gulp) but I was meant to have it. Without a doubt in my mind I knew it would be perfect for the maxi length version of this pattern, Vogue 9251.
I started making this dress as soon as we got back to Texas, but actually finishing it got delayed when we moved in August, and then TÉLIO happened and time got away from me. It’s one of those projects, though, that I just had to finish. I needed a short break from fall and winter projects too, so this was a great way to give myself time to refresh. I posted countless in-progress pictures of this dress, so it made me feel better to finally finish it and it not be one of those garments that you see all over the place until it disappears without explanation.
This pattern is magnificent. Easy to sew, flattering, versatile. It’s designed to tie on the inside right and the outside left, but it doesn’t actually wrap all the way around you. The first time I made it, I left off the ties entirely in favor of snaps so I would have the option of wearing a belt with it if I wanted. The second time I made the ties as designed in the pattern. This time, I modified the pattern so that the ties are much longer, attached at the end of each bodice piece, and wrap around the waist.
It was as easy as making side of the front bodice longer to accommodate the ties, and leaving the right side of the bodice open for about an inch to create the channel for the tie to feed through. I also lengthened the bodice a little, and you can see that adjustment too. (Normally, I would copy these patterns onto more durable paper and make adjustments from there, but apparently I’m going through a lazy phase.)
Swayback adjustment on the back bodice:
The left side wraps under the right side, so the channel is on the ride side seam. I interfaced the seam allowances for extra stability and topstitched around it. Notice that in order to create the channel the side seams are serged individually then sewn together and pressed open. If you sew the side seams together as one, finishing the raw edges would get pretty messy.
To conceal the edges of the bodice, ties, and ruffle, I added a piece of bias tape which finishes that edge nicely.
Because this fabric is so delicate and drapes so beautifully, I thought a ruffle around the neckline would be a nice addition to the dress. To do this, I measured the neckline and drafted a circle for the back and front. I didn’t want a seam anywhere other than the shoulder, so I doubled the fold of the front ruffle so it would open up as one continuous piece.
Fabrics like this require extra care, so this dress took a little longer to sew than the previous two versions. As with most things you love though, it’s worth the effort – even if leveling the hem and then pressing, trimming, and sewing the narrow hem made me roll my eyes a few times.
I love this dress. Looove it. I cannot wait for the first opportunity to wear it – and we may be months out from that time but gosh it’ll feel great to wear this one.
Another dress I wanted to share before getting back into fall projects is my second version of Vintage Vogue 8788. I’m not dedicating a blog post to this dress because I covered all the pattern and sewing details in the original post featuring the navy polka dot version of this dress, but it’s another piece that got interrupted by our move and my other fall projects before you got to see it. I actually photographed this dress a couple days before we moved, but those pictures were so rushed that exactly none of them were good enough to post. So, here we are five months after I started this dress finally showing it to you!
For this second (and final) version I used a heavyweight blush pink Ralph Lauren linen suiting that I got at Textile Fabrics in Nashville in June. I’m not normally a big pink person, but this particular shade had me at hello. It’s subtle, sophisticated, and just really, really pretty. The fabric is heavy and substantial so there’s plenty of natural volume in the skirt, but I’m also wearing my petticoat to amp it up a little more.
I wanted to make one more version of this dress because it took such a long time to get the fit right that I wanted to squeeze out every last drop of value from my time investment. Plus, I really like the design of the dress! I really like this pink version, and I think it’s another fabric/pattern combo done right, but the design of the dress is such that, no matter what you do to it, it’s a little funky at the sides under your arms because of the way it wraps around to the back. Eventually, I will need to put a dart in the side bodice to get it to lay completely flat against me. I might have just enough fabric left to make a bolero jacket to go with this dress too, which I think would be gorgeous. For now, in my closet it goes!
Here you can see how far in the back the wrap goes:
And here you can see that, even with all the adjustments and contouring I did to the pattern, there’s still some fabric that could be taken in.
With these projects wrapped up, I’m excited to move onto fall and holiday pieces. I needed a couple weeks to refocus and be inspired to work with cold weather fabrics again. I’m ready now, although my focus will be less on coats and heavy winter garments and more on sparkly holiday pieces. (What can I say, I am who I am.) I have, however, had a coat in mind for about a year now, so I’ll get to that first thing next year. First up, the fun stuff.
I have a big announcement to make soon, about a project I’m working on with HUSQVARNA VIKING® so keep an eye out for that. We’re talking sewing inspiration, new garments, lots of sparkle and tulle – and giveaways! As soon as we’ve dotted the I’s and crossed the T’s, I’ll let you know.
Studio tour coming soon too!
I am a private person. This helps tremendously when it comes to being a sewing blogger, because I have no interest in sharing too much that doesn’t have anything to do with our topics here. How often do I mention my morning routine? Or what I make for dinner? I shared our new house with you because, well, along with that came a pretty great bonus room upstairs that I thought you’d be interested in watching being transformed into my new studio. One lesson I learned when I had a business is that staying on message and branding yourself as something specific and sticking to it is to your benefit. I also think that you’re here for a reason and it makes sense to stay in my lane and put the content out there that you appreciate and want to have. I have enough sewing know-how and related stories to fill a book, so those things make sense to share. Life happens to all of us, but you don’t need to know about everything that goes on behind the scenes. Sometimes, though, things happen that interrupt or delay projects and I can’t just ignore them. Such was the case with Olivia.
Olivia had a significant, profound impact on my life. Losing her not only caused a delay in my posts with TÉLIO and HUSQVARNA VIKING®, but completely broke my heart.
Ty and I adopted Harrison in January 2012, and it was just the three of us for about seven months. Then, we decided it would be fun to be a foster home for dogs waiting for adoption. We fostered two dogs over the course of about a month, but neither of those dogs captured our hearts. We were happy to take care of them temporarily, and it was wonderful to see them placed in a home where they would be loved – but we weren’t meant to keep them. Then Olivia walked in.
She was about a year old at the time, so only a few months older than Harrison, and her owners were going through a divorce and had surrendered her to the rescue organization we were working with as fosters. She was dropped off at our house one afternoon, and I think I loved her the second I saw her. Her darling little face and floppy ears and beautiful brown eyes were too much for me to resist. We weren’t really in a place to adopt a second dog at the time, but I think Ty saw how much I adored that precious little puppy and we made it work.
I never had dogs growing up. We had two cats, one of which died when I was a young girl. I don’t remember how sad that made me, but I know it did. Ty always had dogs, and for a few years we would talk about getting one someday. What started as me making a joke saying, “Well, if we’re going to get one, let’s get the biggest one!” turned into our actual plan – and so we set our sights on getting a great dane.
We love our dogs. We love them a lot. We are affectionate with them and take care of them and just enjoy being around them. Harrison is a big, lazy sweetheart and Olivia was the charming, energetic one. I could go on and on about all the things I loved about her. She got sick in August, but we were on the road to recovery – until one day we weren’t and there was no turning back. Watching your beloved pet – a member of your family – suffer and die is one of the worst things you will ever experience. My heart aches at the memory of her laying on a bed at the animal hospital, unable to move and hooked up to an IV. I completely break down when I think about watching Ty carry her in his arms to the car in the middle of the night before we took her to the hospital for the last time. And it takes every ounce of self control to keep from crying remembering when the hospital techs wheeled her into the room where we were waiting to have her put down. She lifted her darling little head up just one time in those final moments, and that was to watch Ty as he walked around the table to stand next to me near her face. It was awful.
We buried her in our backyard, and that has brought me some comfort, knowing that she’s back home with us. I couldn’t eat or sleep well for a week, and I have moments when I’m completely caught off guard and burst into tears at the thought of her. Sometimes it’s knowing I’ll never see her again. Other times it’s because I’m angry that I only got five years with her. I miss everything about her. She was my dog, and I know without a doubt that she knew exactly what I was saying when I held her face in my hands the night before she died and told her she was the perfect dog and that I loved her. I also know that we did everything we could for her, and that the last decision we made for her was the right one. I just never knew how painful it would be.
I’m slowly coming to terms with losing Olivia, but I can’t dwell on the final weeks of her life. I have to cherish the time I had with her when she was healthy and brought us so much joy. My goodness, I’m so lucky to have had her for any amount of time. Eventually, we’ll get another puppy. Maybe in a couple years, maybe sooner. I can’t fathom the idea right now, but I think we will. For the time being, I’m so grateful for Harry. We think he knows Olivia is gone, but he’s always been the easygoing one, so he’s his regular, goofy self. He’s getting even more attention these days, so he’s doing just fine.
Thank you for all the kind messages you sent me about Olivia. I never could have anticipated hearing from so many of you, and I was truly touched by everything you said and the prayers you prayed. Pets are such an important part of our lives, and I think you’re doing something right if you’ve experienced that kind of unconditional love.
I have been excited about this post for weeks. It’s been so rewarding to see this collection come together, and to make it whole with this finale piece is very gratifying. When I first spoke with TÉLIO a few months ago, I never could have anticipated the joy I would have gotten out of this series. I knew putting a collection together was going to be tons of fun, but the challenge of showing each fabric in the best way possible forced me to create a some looks that may not otherwise have created – and that was a huge and unexpected bonus. I’ve had the most incredible time over the past few weeks, and it really all comes down to having the opportunity to work with these gorgeous fabrics.
Today’s dress is a dress I’ve made once before, and it is my own design. I used a navy blue, medium weight polyester satin (a similar fabric – a stretch polyester satin – is available at fabric.com) to make this piece, and it is lined in bemberg rayon and has horsehair in the hem facing for added oomph in the skirt. It has side seam pockets, cups in the bodice, and an invisible zipper in center back. I spent an excruciating amount of time thinking about what to do with this fabric. (Really, I nearly drove myself nuts.) How to show it the best way, what garments work the best with its characteristics – there were a lot of considerations for this piece. In the end, I went with this dress because it’s not only lovely in this fabric and color, it’s something I will wear. I love having a solid navy dress in the line up, because it’s a color seen throughout but not in an overwhelming or redundant way. The bias tape along the waistline, midriff, ties, and hem band are a nod to a detail from a few weeks ago on the lemon print skirt, and I like that it gives the dress some additional definition.
Satin is a beautiful fabric, and this one is especially pretty. It’s substantial and smooth and easy to sew and comfortable. I’m glad we included this fabric because it’s a nice addition to the other textures in the group.
To wrap up this collaboration, TÉLIO asked me a few questions about my creative process and what it was like to work with them. (Obviously, it’s been wonderful.) Here’s our interview:
What questions do you ask yourself before beginning a new project? What do you feel is most important before picking the fabric / how does it inspire you?
In the past, I’ve spent too much time forcing myself into projects that didn’t work for me, so now I begin every idea considering how well a garment will fit into my lifestyle. I don’t need to make cardigans or tees to feel like I’m contributing in a meaningful way to my wardrobe, but I like knowing that what I’m making will be worn. Fabric is one of my biggest inspirations. I’m always drawn to color and texture and print and the challenge of making a fabric I really love work for me. I have always loved quality fabrics too. It’s worthwhile to invest in fabrics that are not only wonderful to work with, but that won’t fall apart over time.
Have you ever felt stuck creatively? If so, how do you break that?
Yes! I have to take a break for a while. Sometimes all I need is an afternoon outside or a couple of days to spend enjoying other hobbies, but the motivation and ideas always return. I think we do ourselves a disservice when we try so hard to constantly be working on something or we don’t allow time for rest and reflection. I know this from personal experience. You have to give your mind time to do other things. Then we can return with a fresh perspective and newly inspired to do great work.
What is your goal as a blogger/designer?
I want to contribute to the sewing community. I spent a long time studying design and sewing, and I have a lot to offer those who are excited to expand their own skills. Finding my voice as a blogger and designer has taken time, and I’m always looking to improve and grow and learn. Most of all, I have incredible passion for this craft, and I want to inspire others in their own journey.
Seeing as you’re a true influencer to your readers – Who inspires you?
I adore expertise and talent, so there are a few fashion houses and fashion bloggers I admire for their consistency and outstanding work, and I appreciate people who have their own look or point of view figured out and execute it well.
How was your experience working with TÉLIO? Did the fabric meet your expectations?
Incredible! I was a fan prior to this series, but now I’m a mega fan. The fabric is nothing short of magnificent, and it exceeded my expectations. I think it says a lot about your mission and values as a wholesaler that you have such a wide range of fabrics – and that they are all such fabulous quality.
What were some challenges you faced during the making process and how did you overcome them?
The challenges that popped up over the course of this process were mostly time related – so there may have been a late night or two to put it all together! I also spent a lot of time thinking and planning each look. Some took more thought than others, but that was all part of the fun. I spent some time just looking at the fabrics and seriously thinking about each component and how they would all work together.
Now that the whole process has come to an end – how do you feel? Are you happy with the outcome of the final fall collection?
I’m so thrilled! I always think it’s a good sign to look back at a body of work without regret or disappointment. If anything, I look back at this collection and I want to keep going – there’s tons of things I’d love to add to it!
Thank you to TÉLIO for the opportunity to put this collection together with such beautiful fabric. I know I’m one lucky girl!
And thank you, readers, for following along. I have so enjoyed your reactions and reading your comments. This wouldn’t have been half as fun without you! I have read all of your emails and comments and questions, and I will address a couple things over the next few weeks in more detailed posts. (Hem facings with piping, horsehair, underlining – we’ll go over all of it!)
But first, next week, we’ll be talking about the DESIGNER RUBY® Royale – stay tuned for all the details!
Lace is one of my favorite fabrics. I don’t use it all that often because no matter what you do with it it’s quite dressy and formal, but it still catches my eye at the fabric store, every single time. I don’t have many opportunities in my real life to rock something lacy – it might look a little silly on a grocery run or when I’m running around in the backyard with our puppies. But, wouldn’t you know it, as soon as I type that I remember a white lace skirt with an elastic waistband hanging in the closet that I love and have worn countless times. I usually wore a denim button up with it and some leather sandals and a hat. Made a fantastic summer outfit. So, all of that to say lace is formal but it can also be, let’s call it, “dressy casual.”
This is the finale week in my series with TÉLIO, and I’ve been beside myself to share these final two looks with you. (The second, a navy satin dress with black trim is coming on Friday!) This is such a great way to round out the collection, and I absolutely love the fabric in today’s post. I made this dress with TÉLIO black guipure lace, a French lace I’ve used a number of times over the years. It’s a bobbin lace, which means the motifs are connected by bars or plaits – not mesh or net. Essentially, it’s an “open weave” lace with no backing. There’s no traditional scalloped edge, but you can cut around the motifs and finish the edge with a little fabric glue to create the scallop. (I did just that on the hem of the skirt.) This lace is medium weight, 100% polyester, and it was the motifs that caught my eye. I love those leaves!
My original idea was for a dress with a fitted bodice and a midi length pleated skirt. I can’t tell you how many times I went back and forth thinking about what to do with this lace. I wanted to do the fabric justice, but I also wanted to do something fresh and new, so I decided to forgo the fit and flare in favor of something more fitted and sophisticated. (Plus, you saw a fit and flare in a yummy marigold lace a few weeks back, and you know I’ll be back to that silhouette eventually.)
I would have loved to make the skirt a little longer so that the flounce started below the knee more (creating a longer line), but then the flounce would have to have been narrower to keep the dress the same length. Or, I could have made the flounce floor length, but I really wanted to keep this dress midi length. I don’t have many occasions that call for a floor length lace dress!
I’m loving the sheath dress silhouette right now, and I thought an interesting way to elevate it was to add a mermaid flounce to the skirt. The simple addition of velvet ribbon around the waist and on the skirt, makes this piece perfect for fall and winter – and I’m crazy about those textures velvet together. They make a great pair!
I underlined the lace in white to make the lace pop, and used horsehair under the flounce to give it a little more volume. I cut around the motifs along the hem, which is a nice detail there.
Now, for the pattern. I mashed together the bodice of Vogue 9197 (also making it bateau neck) with the skirt from McCall’s 7540. This isn’t difficult to do, but the waistline on the bodice from Vogue 9197 actually sits above the natural waist, so I had to make some adjustments to make sure the patterns not only matched at the side seams but so that the skirt wasn’t too short through the hips. I’ve been waiting for an opportunity to make the McCall’s pattern, and it’s quite nice. It’s been drafted generously through the hips which is to say that, if anything, you might need to take it in that area for a more personalized fit. And I may never have an occasion for a floor length skirt, but I think I’ll be making the skirt again soon in that length. It’s so flattering.
I’m so happy with this dress, and it’s a welcome addition to my closet. I appreciate special occasion dresses that don’t show so much flesh. I have always believed in the power of mystery. There’s also something about long sleeves in formalwear that I find incredibly refreshing. But don’t worry, I’ll be back on Friday for the last look in this collection, and it’s sleeveless and fabulous – and I will lose count of the number of times I will wear it.
See y’all Friday!