progress report: the yellow stripe project

I tell you what, making your clothes is always an adventure. If you follow me on Instagram, you know I’m in the midst of a project or two with some gorgeous yellow stripe rayon/silk fabric. Or I was, anyway, until a couple days ago. After getting about halfway through a dress and barely started on a skirt, I decided to scrap them both and go with one dress, the very dress that I originally wanted to make and then talked myself out of, in the name of “doing something different.”

My extra careful, overthinking it approach to this project stems from two things: this fabric was not cheap (so don’t mess it up!), and the abstract stripe absolutely requires that you give the garment a little more consideration. Back in January, I bought the fabric from Promenade Fabrics, and it’s spectacular. Also in January, I made Vogue 9197 for the umpteenth time in a navy stripe fabric, so I felt like I should do something new with this special yellow stripe. They’re two completely different fabrics though, so I shouldn’t have worried so much about making the same dress.

When it comes to stripe fabric, I like to use it in a literal, directional way. If it’s too abstract, it bugs me. An abstract interpretation can work beautifully and it’s interesting to see a jumble of stripes in all different directions, but I appreciate something a little more simple and subtle. I’m also someone who thinks about the longevity of my garments, and I don’t want to steer too far from classic lines so I can enjoy the garment for as long as possible. The yellow stripe has an abstract feel to it on its own–the stripes are painted and uneven and marvelous, so going with a simple design doesn’t mean it’s not thoughtful or interesting.

I had about 4.25 yards of this fabric, which is enough for two garments, depending on what they were. After such success with Butterick 6446 last month (that is one of my favorite dresses so far this year), I thought I would do that one again, this time in the yellow stripe. I loved it in a major, major way until I attached the skirt and tried it on. It was awful, and you’ll just have to believe me because there will never be a reason to post the photo that documents how horrible it was. The skirt fell flat, the stripes were a mess, and there’s too much body in the fabric for the pleats to lay nicely across the bodice.

You’d never guess it was so unattractive on, because it is so darling on the form.

So, I left it on the form for a few days to see if it grew on me. I even tried it on a number of times, forcing myself to say that I would wear it. I was lying to myself, because there was no way I’d ever happily pick it from my closet and feel good in it. And that should never be the case with our clothes, especially the ones we invest so much time into making. A fabric this pretty deserves to be made into something I not only love, but would feel good in and want to wear. So, it was back to the drawing board.

Fortunately, there’s no zipper in the dress yet, so removing the skirt an reusing it will be easy. As for the maxi skirt, I’m going to use that too and cut a new bodice. The maxi skirt (the second garment I was making) had been cut and I’d started to gather the skirt, but I messed up cutting it and cut it into thirds instead of in half. (We all flub sometimes, folks. I was due!) So, I was working through the challenge of fixing that too. This was a comedy of errors from the word go! Also, when and where was I going to wear this fabulous maxi skirt? The grocery store?!

Late Monday night, I quickly pinned the fabric to the dress form in the way I originally wanted: a fitted, sleeveless bodice with a bateau neckline, and a gathered skirt, both cut to show the stripe horizontally. I was in love. So, after all that fuss and work, I’m starting over. I couldn’t be happier about it.

This? This I can get behind, and this isn’t anything but a sloppy drape job. But I can see the final result, and I know I’ll love it. Doesn’t it look more like me and something I’d wear? I think it does, and I also love the stripes all in one direction. The gathers in the skirt will give it some volume and body, and the fitted, uncomplicated bodice will show off the stripe really well. The bateau neckline mimics the stripe and draws the eye up and out towards the shoulders. Then, with the nice fit around the waist and the full skirt, you have a lovely ladylike silhouette. My favorite.

So, this is my solution, and I’m really excited to whip it up. The skirt is cut in rectangular sections, so provided I don’t muck it up again, that will be easy. I will draft the bodice using my slopers, and with side seam pockets, an invisible zipper, and a lining, we’re good to go.

Has this ever happened to you? You’re stuck working on a project you don’t love, then you turn it around and start over? I’d love to commiserate!

I may not work with it much, but I do love yellow. I designed a handful of pieces when I was in business, and I have the pleated striped skirt in my closet. See, my eye for placing stripes in a deliberate direction goes way back!

sewing magic with the DESIGNER JADE™ 35

A few weeks ago, I announced a partnership with my favorite sewing machine brand, HUSQVARNA VIKING®. I’m happy to report that I’m having the best time! The best part about this collaboration is that I get to use some of their coolest sewing and embroidery machines and report back to you about all the incredible things they can do. Today, I’m delighted to tell you about the machine I’ve been using for the past six weeks, the DESIGNER JADE™ 35.

I’m so glad we kicked off this series with this particular machine. While it’s packed full of features even the most experienced seamstress can appreciate, this machine is especially great for beginners or folks getting back into sewing after some time away from the craft. The DESIGNER JADE™ 35 does it all from basic stitching and blind hems to buttonholes and complex embroidery. Plus, it’s easily the cutest machine you’ve ever seen, and I cannot get over how smart the storage solutions are. Whoever thought to design a storage box in the middle of the sewing machine deserves a prize. Genius!

There’s even more storage in the accessories tray, which easily slides off when you’re ready to attach the embroidery unit.

My favorite features of DESIGNER JADE™ 35 have everything to do with the ease with which it’s used. Right out of the box, I put this machine to the test, sewing a rayon challis blouse, a brocade top (did a blind hem on that one!), a rayon ponte knit dress (another blind hem!), and a pretty cotton dress. Going from project to project in all those fabrics was as simple as changing my needle and pressing a button. There were no tension issues or skipped stitched or broken threads. Not once! The DESIGNER JADE™ 35 has the HUSQVARNA VIKING® Exclusive SEWING ADVISOR™ feature, which automatically sets the best stitch, stitch length, stitch width and thread tension for your projects. No more worrying about manual adjustments!

The User’s Guide tells you what fabric type corresponds with what button on the machine. There’s even a setting for sewing leather!

Here, I’m sewing a piece of cotton sateen, a medium weight woven fabric, or “B” on the machine. I’m sewing a straight stitch, which is “1” in the column next to the fabric buttons. Your fabric choice and selected stitch then pop up on the display, so you know what setting you’re using. The machine also tells you what needle to use, so there’s no confusion.

And here’s the DESIGNER JADE™ 35 in action, sewing a straight stitch on cotton:

The ultimate test for any sewing machine is denim or leather. With the use of the self-adhesive guide plates on my presser foot, I sewed through leather like it was butter. (I’m still impressed by this!)

Don’t have a serger? No worries! This machine has a built-in seam/overcast stitch, which finishes the raw edges of your seams beautifully. The presser foot for this stitch is included in the accessories pack that comes with the machine.

One stitch I use quite often is the blind hem. I love the clean, professional look it gives to my garments, and it’s so easy to do. The presser foot used for this stitch is also included in the accessories pack. (You pretty much have everything you need in that pack!)

When you’re ready to dive into embroidery, all you have to do is remove the accessories tray and attach the embroidery unit. There are 70 designs and 1 embroidery font stored on the USB stick that is included the accessories pack, so you can get started right away without worrying about fancy software. The sampler book is a PDF file on the USB stick, which you can upload on your computer. You can also adjust, personalize and combine your embroidery designs; create monograms on your computer. Rotate, mirror, scale and resize any design with the option to keep stitch density constant, and much more!

I was quite intimidated by the very idea of embroidery before I sat down to experiment with it, but it’s so easy to set up and get going. And, just like changing your settings for sewing different fabrics, all you have to do is change your needle and thread. The machine does the rest of the work for you.

Not only is the large DESIGNER™ Jewel Hoop 240 x 150 mm (9 ½” x 6″) included with your DESIGNER JADE™ 35, but this machine embroiders at some of the fastest speeds on the market. It was really something to press the start button and watch it go!

The more I used this machine, the longer my list of favorite features became. There’s nothing complicated or fussy about it, but it still does some amazing things. In addition to embroidery, there are also 120 stitches on the machine: utility stitches, sewing fonts, buttonhole styles, quilt stitches, and decorative stitches. And you have the option for free motion quilting, manual or one-step buttonholes, jeans or stretch hems, sewing buttons, sewing zippers, and darning and mending.

It’s magic, I tell you!

the florida collection

There’s nothing more rewarding in sewing then when a plan comes together, when weeks of thinking and organizing and fitting and cutting and sewing finally come together. In February, I posted my thoughts about a few new pieces I wanted to have for a trip to Florida. The trip has since come and gone (and it was fantastic!), and now it’s time to see, of the things on the list, what came together and what didn’t.

You know I love to sew in groups or collections of garments, and sewing for a specific event or trip is my ultimate project. It is so much fun! I always appreciate a collection with a clear and cohesive color story with coordinating prints, and this particular group is lacking in that respect. The blue top sticks out like a sore thumb and I’ve got three very different prints going on, but this project was more about specific garments for specific events, so from that perspective I’m very pleased.

In the planning post, I mentioned that I needed the following: a couple comfy tops to travel in, a swimsuit cover up, a cocktail dress, a couple of sundresses, and an outfit for exploring Miami.

Garments successfully made: tops, cocktail dress, sundresses, Miami outfit

Garments not made: swimsuit cover up

I had big plans for a wrap skirt swimsuit cover up in this yummy rayon challis, but time ran out before I could get to that project. (I ordered a navy sarong from Amazon and called it good.) As we got closer to the departure date I had to prioritize my unfinished projects, and this one got left behind. I’m okay with that though, because I think this fabric will be great for another project in a summer/4th of July collection I’m planning. Maybe a maxi dress?

I finished this dress first, and I wore it to dinner one night. I am completely and totally in love with this little gingham number, and it was perfect for this trip. It’s linen so it wrinkled quite a bit and required some ironing after we got there, but that’s okay with me. It was so comfortable, and I got loads of nice compliments on it. For more about this dress, see this post.

Full disclosure: I made this dress last summer. I knew it would be a great dress for this trip, and it was. I wore this to the welcome reception on the beach. Loved it. For more about this dress as well as a tip for a better fitting bust, see this post from last week.

I made three tops for this trip, all using the same pattern. This one is my favorite of the bunch. The floral trim is just so pretty! It wasn’t ridiculously hot in Florida yet, so I could still wear jeans and not be uncomfortably hot. My travel outfits and the exploring Miami outfit were the same: one of these tops, skinny jeans, a hat, and sandals. It was great. For more about these tops and a tutorial for the ruffle, see this post.

The cocktail dress: easily one of my favorite projects. I got more compliments on this dress than I’ve ever gotten on any other project, ever. So not only was I glad other people liked it as much as I did, I was proud to tell them that I made it. (You should have seen some of the reactions that got!) Read about the cocktail dress here.

This is by no means a sundress, but it came in handy for another dinner event. This is one of my all time favorite patterns, and this is fourth time I’ve made this dress. Read about the others here and here. This is Vogue 8825 in a coral rayon ponte knit from Mood.

I also planned to make a pair of white linen pants, and while I did make them, I didn’t take them to Florida. They didn’t really work with the tops I made, so you’ll see those soon with a top that makes a little more sense.

I was so excited to get pretty blog pictures on the beach (what a great opportunity, right?), but a funny thing happens when I get to a beach: I don’t care about pretty pictures. I’m much more concerned with how quickly I can throw on a swimsuit, get to the beach, and swim my little heart out. There were also a lot of people there, and taking selfies and blog pictures in front of a bunch of strangers isn’t my idea of a good time. At any rate, the trip was a wonderful, and I couldn’t be happier with the collection I made for it.

Now, on to more projects!