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the TÉLIO collection: emerald encore

The dress in today’s post wasn’t planned. Originally, the folks at TÉLIO and I were going to end this fall series today with two pretty incredible special occasion pieces. Dresses made with yards and yards of satin and lace and a whole lot of horsehair, but this whole thing has been so much fun that we decided to sneak in an extra week. I’ve been both touched and humbled by the response from all of you too – I think we’ve all had a really great time watching this collection come together. It’s also been tons of fun watching the reaction to each look. I had a feeling the lemon print garments would be a hit, but I’ve been quite surprised by the response to the greens. (Last week’s cozy ponte knit looks in that yummy spruce green have gotten the most views and comments than anything else so far – crazy!) This emerald green rayon batiste from week three was also a winner, and it’s for that reason that we decided to feature it again.

This fabric is available at fabric.com, and not only do I love this color year round, it would also be pretty fantastic for Christmas. Or, another idea is a pretty pajama set with a robe trimmed in some delicate lace or a blouse with statement sleeves or a duster or a full skirt. You get the idea – this fabric makes pretty clothes. I’ll be using it again in the spring to make a maxi dress.

I use rayon all the time. It’s one of my favorite fabrics because it mimics lightweight silk for a fraction of the price, it feels incredible to wear, and it works well in the Texas heat for most of the year. I also love how beautifully it drapes, which is why I chose McCall’s 7566. This pattern is from the spring collection, and I was attracted to it because there are options for a little more coverage without a traditional sleeve. The ruffle and cape-style options are really lovely, and I like the delicate skirt. I wouldn’t recommend this pattern for beginners, because those narrow hems take experience and patience to execute, and gathering the skirt can be a little tedious.

I cut my usual size, but I think the pattern runs a little big. I could easily go down a full size and still have plenty of wearing ease. I cut view A and added a few inches of length to the skirt, and I also used the back bodice piece from view D because I can’t wear things with a low cut back. Other than that, I made no changes. I lined the dress in bemberg rayon, and the lining is navy blue simply because of the three colors I had on hand it looked the best with the emerald. I love that combination though – looks great.

The first dress I made with this fabric was less fitted and had elastic around the waist. Because this dress has a more fitted bodice with a skirt that is gathered onto it, I staystitched the waistline on the bodice. Just like staystitching keeps a neckline or armholes from stretching out of shape, staystitching the waistline does the same thing. I’ve found that it helps keep the bodice stable as you gather the skirt onto the bodice. For heavier, more stable fabrics like sateen or twill, I will often fuse a lightweight interfacing around the waistline. You can do this to rayon too, just be sure to use a lightweight interfacing.

The arrow points to the staystitching around the waistline on the bodice.

Until recently, I had nothing in my closet in this color. I’m happy that’s changed now!

I hope you’re enjoyed this series as much as I have, and I can’t wait for next week. I’ve saved the best for last!

the TÉLIO collection: perfect ponte

There was a time when I never wanted to work with knits. Stretchy fabrics just weren’t my thing. I thought things like t-shirts and lounge pants and cardigans were boring and dull, and I went for a long stretch of time (years, folks) where not a single stretchy fabric inspired me. Eventually, things changed. I went from never really thinking about knit garments (I was too busy with fluffy tulle skirts and cotton and linen everything) to a newfound appreciation for all things stretchy. Plus, I fell for ponte.

Ponte is a double-knit interlock fabric. It has a more full-bodied drape to it, and it’s much more substantial and thick than a typical jersey or ITY knit. (ITY stands for Interlock Twist Yarn, which just means there’s a twist in the yarn that gives the fabric a more elastic feel. ITY’s are very, very drapey and soft.) Unless I need something more lightweight like a jersey, I always go for ponte. It has the same characteristics that other stretchy fabrics have as far as comfort goes, but because it’s more stable and firm, it’s easier to work with and it is incredibly flattering. It stretches but recovers much better than other knits, meaning it maintains it’s original shape well. Whereas you might have stretched out knees at the end of the day in other knits, that’s not the case with ponte. It’s pretty much the best thing ever.

When I chose the fabrics for this collection with TÉLIO, I knew I wanted a variety of fabrics, and including ponte was a no-brainer for all the reasons I just mentioned and because it’s a great fabric for fall and winter. This particular ponte – and my preference, always – is a rayon/nylon blend ponte. Polyester ponte knits are fine, but the rayon/nylon versions are softer and hold up much better over time. Polyester also has a tendency to pill, so as a general rule I try to avoid it. I will say, though, that polyester has come a long, long way and modern poly doesn’t always have the issues that it once did. Still, can’t beat the rayon/nylon blends.

This spruce green ponte (65% Rayon/30% Nylon/5% Spandex) is the softest, best quality ponte I’ve ever worked with. It’s stretchy without being rigid, and the drape is elegant and lofty. You can buy this fabric at Sew Much Fabric.

I wanted two pieces in this yummy ponte: a fitted dress and a cardigan. I liked the versatility of both pieces. They can be worn together or separately, and each can be styled in a number of different ways. Let’s talk about this dress first though, because this dress could be a blog post all on its own. It’s one of those pieces that has haunted me for years, and that’s no exaggeration. I adore this silhouette, adore it. However, I happen to have a curvier body type that is more of a challenge to fit in this type of dress. I’ve spent the past couple of years admiring from afar all the lovely ladies who made this dress for themselves and applauded how killer they all looked in it. The pattern is McCall’s 6886, easily one of their all-time best-sellers. It’s everything everyone says about it and more, I promise. I will, without a doubt, be making a few more versions.

I’ve spent a good amount of time over the years trying on dresses like this in stores, only to be frustrated with the fit and really, really disappointed that I don’t have the type of body that can slip on a dress like this and look good in it. I should have known better and not wasted so much time trying to force something mass-produced to work for me. All it took was  the right pattern and a couple of tweaks to the fit to give me a dress that looks better, is better quality, and fits better than anything I could ever buy.

I cut my regular size, and graded down a size at the waist, and back out at the hips. I added seam allowance to the center back to save fabric (the pattern has you cut both front and back on the fold, which unnecessarily uses a lot of fabric). Plus, that gives me a back seam to make fitting adjustments if I need to. I went with a custom length of 27″ from the waist and cut the long sleeves from view B. I had a lazy moment and did not make a swayback adjustment, so there’s a little fabric excess at my lower back. I’ll make that adjustment before cutting version #2.

I used a size 90 stretch needle and the “stretch medium” setting on my sewing machine. I serged all the seams, and hemmed the sleeves and skirt hem with a blind hem. I do this whenever possible on knits, because I think it’s a cleaner finish that a double row of stitching. The neck is finished with a narrow hem. You simply press it under, press under again, and sew it.

I can’t tell you how satisfying it is to have finally tackled this project. Like most everything else, I was making it a bigger challenge than it really was. I was worried this dress would be too tight around the waist, but it’s not. I have a tummy that needs to be kept in check, but I don’t even need support garments under this dress. If it were smaller and in a lighter color I might want to slip on a shaping garment, but there’s no need with this dress. It’s comfortable, easy to sew, and flattering. I’ll be making this in navy (of course) and red soon, but I’m also planning a sequin version of it. Really excited about that one.

Cardigans are another favorite of mine, and I especially like them for traveling. Skinny jeans, flats, a simple tee, and a cardigan is my go-to look for chilly autumn days, running errands, and long travel days. It’s just so easy and comfortable. I don’t, however, always like how shapeless cardigans are. I am way too curvy to be walking around in anything too baggy or that doesn’t cinch my waist – I end up looking like a sloppy, lazy mess. It does nothing for my style, and I don’t feel good in it at all. Comfy clothes can still be all the things I like my style to be, and it’s usually as easy as adding a belt.

I don’t hate this cardigan without a belt, actually. As long as I keep the other pieces fitted, I can get away with no belt.

I wanted a simple cardigan, but something with a little more length and swing to it. I used McCall’s 6084, and added a belt to it. I keep a few pocket patterns and one or two belt patterns at the ready for projects like this, so I just used a pattern from my pattern stash to make the belt.

I cut view D, and I didn’t make a single change to the pattern. I don’t love the pivot/clip/press method for attaching the collar, so I didn’t follow the instructions for finishing those seams as the pattern suggests. Instead of clipping the back seam down to nothing and pressing the shoulder seams open, I just ran the whole thing through the serger. It cleans it up the best way possible. And because this ponte knit is a little thicker than the lightweight knits listed on the pattern, I did not do a narrow hem (too bulky). I simply turned the seam under once and stitched close to the raw edge. I went with a blind hem on the sleeves. Otherwise, everything else is great and comes together really well. This one is easy to sew.

These projects were exceptionally refreshing to make. It feels great to mix things up and add a little variety to the things I usually make. There will definitely be multiple versions made of both of these pieces in the coming weeks. And don’t forget that @teliofashion will be giving away a three yard piece of this gorgeous ponte knit – watch for the post on Instagram!

See y’all next week!

the TÉLIO collection: pretty polka dots

Polka dots: perhaps the most cheerful, darling print in the history of prints. Classic, charming, and a little whimsical, these happy little dots always catch my eye. It’s a print that will never go out of style, and I love the fact that it works year round. I have two other handmade polka dot pieces in my closet (a dress and a skirt), and even with the addition of the dress in today’s post I’m sill thinking about adding a few more items. Is there such a thing as too many polka dots?

My adoration for this little print is directly responsible for the inclusion of this fabric in the fall collection I’m showing you this month. Last week, I announced my collaboration with TÉLIO, and today we kick off the series with the first garment in the collection. This dress is one of my new favorites (Vogue 8739), and when I made it for the first time a few weeks ago I instantly knew I’d be making it again in more colors and prints – and this fabric is a perfect choice for the design of the dress.

This fabric is The Dakota Stretch Jersey knit, a lightweight navy blue rayon knit (95% Rayon/5% Lycra) with white polka dots, and it’s very soft and drapes beautifully. And before we go any further, it is available on fabric.com (item 0492756) . Also, follow @teliofashion for a chance to win a three yard piece of the fabric I feature each week!

Here’s the fabric in action: it’s so yummy and soft, but it’s also very easy to work with. I used a size 75 stretch needle and the “lightweight stretch” setting on my sewing machine. I serged all the raw edges and finished the sleeve and skirt hems with a blind stitch.

This dress checks a lot of boxes for me style wise, but I’m especially pleased that it can be worn so often (a lot of the garments I make aren’t quite so versatile). It works everywhere from the office to dinner and running errands on the weekend. Plus, the added bonus is that it’s so comfortable it’s like wearing pajamas without actually wearing pajamas.

I love how well the polka dots work with the other fabrics in the collection. The color story is consistent, and the scale of the prints in particular is quite complementary. The larger scale of the lemons is a nice anchor for the smaller polka dots, and incorporating the polka dots was a great way to introduce a second print without competing with the lemons. I’m particularly crazy about the texture and color of that marigold lace too, but more on that in a couple of weeks.

This dress was a great way to kick off the series with TÉLIO, and I’m so excited for you to see the rest of the pieces. One of my absolute favorite things in sewing is watching a group of coordinating garments come together, so this is especially fun for me.

Happy sewing, and don’t forget to follow @teliofashion on Instagram for a fun chance to win some fabric!