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Sewing Tidbits

Sewing Tidbits is the sewing blog written since 2013 by Delphine, the co-founder of Just Patterns.

Filtering by Tag: dress

Will 2019 be the year of slowing down?

Sewing Tidbits

Compared to previous years, 2018 was relatively calm for me. I didn't move across any ocean and I didn't birth any human! But I did experience significant changes, some that were to be expected and some that were completely unexpected. On the expected side,  my quiet and smiling baby turned into a determined, not to say very stubborn, toddler committed to climbing onto everything (especially me). On the unexpected side, two major changes of responsibilities in my day job have have considerably increased my workload. 

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Introducing: the Linda Wrap Dress sewing pattern

Sewing Tidbits

After literally months of teasing on Instagram, we are thrilled to finally release our newest sewing pattern, the Linda wrap dress! This dress is a favorite of both Eira and I as it is the perfect garment to be dressed up and yet still comfortable. Add the Linda to your handmade wardrobe and we promise that it won't ever let you down!Our wrap dress has a relaxed fit with gathers in the front and the back of the bodice and skirt. The sleeves feature a with a two piece placket and a cuff closed by a button. Their mid-length makes it a perfect choice all year round to wear in the office to fight the freezing A/C in the summer and or the crazy over heating radiator. They provide coverage but won't get in the way!

Linda wrap dress by Just Patterns

It's truly the details that make this dress special. The bias cut collar sitting at the base of the neck. The super practical side pockets and the double top stitching elevate a wardrobe basic to a special piece that you will reach for over and over.The cream color sample shown is made from a heavier 4 ply silk, while the black one was made from a wool blend crepe. Both fabrics are characterized by a nice drape, therefore we recommend woven fabrics with body and drape for this pattern.The waistband has an interesting a belt closure. We recommend a 35mm metal buckle but we can't wait to see what creative alternative solutions you are going to come up with. Seeing your interpretations is the best part of designing sewing patterns! For the eyelets, you can use 2-piece metal ones with the ring (they provide a cleaner finish on both sides and the eyelet alone, or you can embroider them just like buttonholes. If you are in the New York City area, we recommend going to Jonathan's Embroidery.

What the pattern includes

The dress pattern is currently available from size 34 to 46 (see our size chart for more information). The pattern includes:

  • a layered PDF with 4 printing options (30 pages in A4, 32 pages in letter Letter, 2 pages A0, and 2 Pages for US Copy Shop 36"x48" and 30"x42");

  • a cutter's must;

  • a suggested order of operations.

We strongly suggest that you make full use of the layered PDF files and print only the size your need, as we include as much information as we can directly on the pattern pieces.

Our patterns are meant for dressmakers who already know the basics of sewing but if you need more help to sew your dress, our dedicated resource page is available. We can't wait to see your versions of the Linda dress. Don't hesitate to reach out to us by email or on Instagram @just_patterns #lindawrapdress!

From Inspiration to Garment part 4 - Starting with a block

Sewing Tidbits

Dear readers,At this stage, you may rightfully ask yourself what is going on, well I could tell you that I will explain at the end of this post, but I won't. I'll say it right now. I'm moving back to NYC!!! Starting 1st of January, I will change jobs and will relocate in Manhattan. On the one hand, it's a great news. On the other hand, it means that I'm swamped at work trying to close as many processes as possible, plus organizing my move, searching for an apartment etc. Don't expect too much sewing or blogging to happen before I'm settled...However, since I have a significant blogging backlog and I'm never post very often anyway, you may not even notice the difference! Enough about the logistics, let's talk about sewing! For the 4th post of the serie (see part 1, part 2 and part 3), I gathered some inspiration pictures for simple tunic dresses (all found on Pinterest, as usual) :https://www.pinterest.com/pin/17029304818030395/https://www.pinterest.com/pin/17029304818116501/If you want to know more about using block patterns, you can read this post of the Fashion-Incubator. Basically, it's about iterative designs based on an initial pattern that fits well. In the home-sewing world, it's what we call TNT (Tried and True) patterns. The benefit is that you reduce alterations and depending on cases, can skip the toile stage. I really liked the upper body fit of my chambray dress so I started working on this version almost right afterwards (yes it was a while ago).Sewing Tidbits - Chambray Tunic-1Sewing Tidbits - Chambray Tunic-3For the pattern I simply took the bodice pattern of my previous version and lengthen it. I used french seams for the sides and added pockets. If you wonder about in-seam pockets and french seams, you can check out this tutorial.http://www.instagram.com/p/6FXVJnmrGO/My other construction change was to use bias binding as facing. It would have been quick and easy if I had used the self fabric but of course I decided to make things complicated and used some of the silk crepe remnants from my slip dress. It took a little more time but I love the contrast of the cream silk and the blue/grey chambray. I used this fabric before for a pair of Colette Madeleine pajamas. I bought it at Mood NYC back in 2013 and it's very easy to work with. I used white thread for topstitching.  I stole the pocket pattern from my white shirt.Sewing Tidbits - Chambray Tunic-5Sewing Tidbits - Chambray Tunic-4These days, I try to skip bust darts to simplify the lines for a cleaner/sharper look.  I love those simple straight silhouettes on other people but when it's time for me to wear them I find them more flattering when belted. I have to apologize about the pictures, unfortunately The Old Man has not completely mastered the focus with my new lens!!Sewing Tidbits - Chambray Tunic-6Overall this project has been very cheap since everything came from stash and I made my own pattern. Regarding the fit however, I'm only 75% happy. I wish I had shaped the side seam a little to take in the waist and give more ease at the hips. I did add back darts as an afterthought to remove the excess when belted. Most importantly, I should have worn my previous version of this pattern more before using it as a block. I drafted a square angle under the arm that requires to be clipped. It's a point of weakness for this design and I had to repair it on each side for the first dress.Sewing Tidbits - Chambray Tunic-2Sewing Tidbits - Chambray Tunic-7I believe that it's the fundamental difference when you draft/drape your own pattern compared to buying patterns or RTW garments. Nobody did the testing for you!! Just like when buying a car, you have to take it for a ride before you commit! Standing straight in front of the mirror or for a 10 minutes photo session in your garden won't give you all the insights you need to assess the fit, the durability and versatility of your design. Now let's talk about it! How many times do you make a pattern before it becomes a block/TNT ?

From Inspiration to Garment - Part 3 - With a commercial pattern

Sewing Tidbits

Dear readers,It's the third part of my little serie and I want to talk about those times when you feel too lazy to draft or drape the pattern! For several years now (yes, several), I have been thinking about slip dresses. I was a teenager in the 90's so I will always be convinced that calvin klein epurated slip dresses are the coolest. Kate Moss and Rachel from Friends shaped my idea of style (for the best and the worst!!)! Twice a year, when the idea of making a bias slip would sudden become urgent, I'd frantically research patterns meant to be cut on the bias, take note of linings in some Vogue patterns and forget about it. Until next time. But not this time! Let's look at the inspiration first, all collected on Pinterest, with of course, queen Moss:
As stated before, some Vogue patterns include a slip which is meant to be cut on the bias. Carolyn of Handmade by Carolyn made a beautiful version. I myself own New Look 6244 but it's at my parents' house... in France... I actually made this dress 10 years ago but purposefully ignore the bias for the lining (so stubborn) because I did not see the point. Ahem Ahem... I have to admit that in my early sewing years, I was (still am) very stubborn and I did not see the point of many things . Those things included seam finishes, easing sleeves, aligning the grain, wearing ease and many more... Slowly but surely I integrated them in my sewing for the better!Bias silk dress by SewingTidbitsOne detail, I dislike in current Vogue slips such as 1287 is the bust dart. I was convinced I could get away without one since the bias could do the minimal shaping I require. I finally decided to go with the lining of Lekala 2021. It doesn't not specify that it's meant to be cut on the bias, (at least Google Translate does not say so) but since I got to start with a pattern customized to my measurement, so I figured it was worth it.Bias silk dress by SewingTidbitsMy first step was to do a toile. I used regular muslin even though my silk was going to be behave differently. I figured a "skin" tight fit on my form (slightly bigger than me) in muslin would result in appropriate amount in and the 2 layers of silk would have appropriate wearing ease on me. It was a bit risky but it worked! I also used the toile to check the neckline and position and measure the straps. I had to take in 1/2" from each side at the bust and waist, tapering to nothing at the hips and I made no changes to the neckline.http://instagram.com/p/3ERTPTGrMX/The most challenging part for me in working with with silk is cutting, especially on the bias. It takes forever and I'm always tempted to cut corners. However, this time I did not. I lied my 23mm silk crepe from Calamo New York on a first layer of paper, aligning the selvage with the straight edge of the paper to prevent distortion. I created a "marker", which is another layer of paper with all the pieces to be cut drawn in their cutting position. I added my "marker" on top and pinned between the pieces to avoid marking the silk. I then cut through the 3 layers. Bias silk dress by SewingTidbitsBias silk dress by SewingTidbitsI have an important piece of information that some of you may resist. It's OK to cut through paper with your fabric scissors! Yes... I know what the home sewing police says but really, you'll be fine! And it will actually dull your blades a lot less than cutting wool or tweed!!Bias silk dress by SewingTidbitsI stabilized both layers of the neckline with fusible strips and attached the sides with french seams. For a reason I cannot explain, sewing went well for the first pass of the french seam but my industrial Juki refused, yes refused (!!), to go through the second one with a repeated mess of skipped stitches. I was confused and about to cry but I decided to add a layer of paper on top of the seam and tear it off after stitching and it did the trick!Bias silk dress by SewingTidbitsFor the straps I used the method described by my friend E. on her blog. The only thing I would add would be to not be afraid to use a rather large strip of bias, such as 2.5 or 3" as the allowance will "fill" the tube. For the hem, on top of providing the tutorial, E. gifted my ban-roll. I don't know why I never tried before. Actually I do know why (see stubborness mentionned above) but I regret it deeply. This thing is absolutely AMAZING: perfect baby hem on silk. Every. Time.  No need to say more. I actually want to try it to hem shirts with it too!Bias silk dress by SewingTidbitsThat's it for my notes. I love love love the final dress and I wore it for my birthday (30... yikes). We went dining and dancing and I felt very comfortable in this simple yet dressed-up silhouette. I am now thinking of making a single layer one out of thicker black silk crepe. And tank tops, a lot of tank tops, I may have opened the pandora box of bias project! Do you have favorite patterns for bias cuts ? I would love to see what you recommend!

From Inspiration to Garment - Part 2 - Sewing

Sewing Tidbits

Dear readers,Canadian weather seems to make me lazy, and since I'm not a very prolific blogger already, it's getting sad around here. But here I am! As promised, I have pictures to show you of the finished chambray dress I draped in my previous post. I mentioned before that sewing your own patterns is completely different experience than sewing commercial patterns. Since you don't have instructions it may seem counterintuitive, but it's much easier. Steps just flow naturally. Of course you have to figure out a lot of things, but hopefully you did that in the patternmaking stage!chambray-dress-1If you remember the original dress, it had a kind of funnel collar, which I don't find attractive. Instead, I decided to do a "visible facing". There may be a real name for that but I don't know. I stole the idea from my new favorite sewing book: Sewing for Fashion Designers by Anette Fischer. I plan on doing a book review of it because I am truly impressed by it. Considering the number of sewing books I read, this is quite exceptional.Another design change is the little turn up detail in the sleeve. The construction of the entire dress was pretty straightforward. I used a lot of my fusible tape to stabilize the neckline, the pocket opening and the zipper area. For the neckline, I dumbly interfaced the wrong side when, with my inverted, I should have done it on the right side. Oh well...If you saw this dress on my instagram, you may have thought that I was very fitted but in fact it's not. I love how comfortable it is, the style is relaxed and it makes it a perfect weekend dress!chambray-dress-3The fabric is from Rag&Bone, purchased at Mood during my last trip to New York. It does wrinkle and the sleeve style tends to accentuate the wrinkling but It doesn't bother me for a relaxed dress. I used some of of my muslin for my pocket bags, I always think muslin is the perfect match for denim and chambray and it feels less wasteful about the whole process. I didn't make my pocket bags deep enough for my taste, which is a recurrent issue. I always eyeball it and it's systematically to shallow. I wonder if there is a rule of thumb out there... Any hint?chambray-dress-2chambray-dress-5I love the upper body fit and I may iterate from this style and see what I can turn it into. I'm currently thinking and tunic/dress length without waistband of gathers to be worn with a belt. It looks clean and simple in my head and if I could sketch I would share with you. But my drawing skills are ... let's say limited (understatement...) so I guess you will have to take my word for it!I only wish I had checked the ironing before taking the pictures because the back looks quite terrible. It looks like the waistband does not match at the zipper, when in fact, it does!! The fancy camera does not do it all, I have to put more efforts in my pictures...chambray-dress-6 chambray-dress-7I'm trying to turn those posts in a little serie that i call "From Inspiration to Garment". Now that I wrote it, I may lose all my interest in doing it (yes...). But in case I don't, I like the idea of exploring different ways to draw from inspiration to make an aspirational wardrobe materialize and work in real life. Next post will be unrelated (it's a leather one) but I will get back into it shortly! In the mean time, I leave you with a side by side comparison picture, do you think it looks close enough (except for the bad pose)? I'd love to here your approach to sewing from inspiration!Comparaison Chambray Dress

Vogue 8379 - a wrap dress that was not sewed-along

Sewing Tidbits

Dear readers,Coming back from Guatemala in March to a clean and organized sewing room had the most surprising effect. I lost all my inspiration. After a week of indecisiveness, I bit the bullet and decided to use a pattern from my stash you probably all know, since Mccalls was running a sew along on their blog. My inability to participate in social events around the sewing community is well documented un-documented. As soon as I decide to take part in a sew-along, contest or anything, my excitement for the project drops entirely. In addition, not getting many opportunities to sew during the week, when I do, I clock several hours at once. The step by step approach of sewalongs - attach the collar and next week we'll tackle the sleeves - does not work for me. I'm more a #sewuntilyoureyeshurt and #oopsthatsleeveisinsideout kind of person. But I'll admit it, I am weak. I did not know what to sew, I had the pattern in my stash, I love thinkingI'm copying designers. So I went for it...vogue-8379-Sewing TidbitsI think I wrote several time about how rarely I work with Big4 patterns and why. I will NOT use 5/8" seam allowances on a knit. Reading the instructions, I realized there was ease in the cap sleeve. Ease in a t-shirt sleeve!! I also checked the many many PR reviews and saw that the skirt is considered very full. I draped size 8 on my form with the paper pattern. Vogue 8379 - Draping the pattern - SewingTidbitsThe picture is blurry but you can see how different it looks from the illustration. I decided to redraw the side seam and remove a lot of length. The final skirt length is 20" and the hem circumference is 74". I was surprised to find the waistline hitting at the right spot. I assume that it should be lengthen for none petite bodies. Other than that, the bust measurement is quite high, do they believe bust level is where the circled cross is??? Vogue 8379 - Draping the pattern - SewingTidbitsI removed 1/4 where the point of the wrap at the bodice meets the waistline to prevent gaping and changed all the SA's to 3/8". I removed 1/4" on each side seam of the bodice, thus a 1" overall.I found around 1" of ease in the sleeve cap. To remove it, I lowered the cap by 3/8"flatten the back portion and remove about 1/2" on each side of the underarm seam (1/4" being due to my intake in the bodice side seam). Vogue 8379 - Draping the pattern - SewingTidbitsThe dress was sewn entirely on the serger and what took the most time was probably finding the motivation of catch stitching the facing and the hem. The good parts in my procrastination is that with 2 weeks on the form, the skirt had all the times it needed to stretch out so I could safely mark and hem without risking further stretching.Vogue 8379 by SewingTidbitsI only did a passable job at making my catch stitching invisible and it bothers me a little. But definitely not enough to redo it! The fabric is the last piece of a black jersey which at this stage I'm not entirely sure I bought it in Paris or in NYC. I get very worried about my memory. When I hear other seamstresses with stashes 20 times the size of mine (yes, it's small), saying that they can remember buying each piece, I'm embarrassed. My entire stash holds in one drawer and although I think I know everything I own and could mention it from the top of my head, I get surprises every time! Am I the only one? Is my memory particularly bad?Vogue 8379 by SewingTidbitsVogue 8379 by SewingTidbitsI didn't like spending all this time on the pattern of what I consider a relatively basic knit dress. If you add my low sew-jo and The Old Man's not-so-subtle-comments about spending time on dresses when I mostly wear jeans & shirts, I was about the quit several times. Even when I finished it, I was disappointed. I was planning a pathetic blog post about how I AGAIN sewed something I don't need and how The Old Man was right. But last week I had a work cocktail and it ended up being very useful. I got a lot of compliments, including from The Old Man.vogue-8379-10 Vogue 8379 - SewingtidtbitsI am now convinced that this dress induced a major blogging break. Yes, I blame it on a dress ;-) . I started this review a month ago and could not manage to finish it. Final verdict: I will probably wear that dress but I can't say that I love it. I decided to take it as a lesson. Recently I was discussing with the very smart Seamripped if we sew what we want to wear or wear what we want to sew. In that case I believe I have been wanting to make a wrap dress for a long time (blame it on the DVF patterns) but I never pictured myself wearing one. So in the future I want to take let what I want to wear (my fashion board on Pinterest VS my sewing board). If you follow me in Instagram you saw that I put it into practice twice already...What about you? How do you decide what to sew?

A simple black Nettie dress

Sewing Tidbits

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Dear readers,Do you realize that as seamstresses, we tend to overanalyze our wardrobe? I mean who else spends these hours reading about the Wardrobe Architect, or every current and vintage wardrobe/style advice ever printed? I, for example, am having a massive style crush on Un-fancy. Even though her style is much much more casual than mine, and I have 0 plans to get dressed with 37 items, I am addicted to her daily remixes and the clean feeling of her pictures. And even after all our careful analyze and planning we get distracted by the latest pattern release or a nice print at the fabric store...Finally let's also be honest about one point: having a blog does change what you sew, because for instance neon color will pop on the screen and social media, as well as pretty prints. For some of us it's ok, because it is actually our uniform, but for others it is not. As I am now just 1 year before 30, and I'm starting to admit that I don't wear that many eye-popping color and prints. I will keep enjoying them on other blogs and once in a while fall for distraction bu, sewing my "birthday dress" meant sewing something that will come out of my closet every time I need to "fancy" up myself!What can be better than a black Nettie dress from Closet Case files then ?? Nothing.wpid830-Black-nettie-dress-35.jpg wpid828-Black-nettie-dress-29.jpg wpid819-Black-nettie-dress-15.jpgI made this dress before, so I did not change anything, except that I did not add bra cups inside. The fabric is a viscose jersey bought in Paris while I was there in June (at Sacré Coupons), and although it is very soft, it is slightly less stretchy than the printed lace I used for my previous version. Therefore, I am trying to feel what the reviewers stated about the arms being on the tight side. However, please note that I use the smallest side of the initial pattern release, before Heather corrected it.wpid826-Black-nettie-dress-27.jpg wpid824-Black-nettie-dress-19.jpg wpid821-Black-nettie-dress-16.jpg wpid817-Black-nettie-dress-3.jpg I have several garments to show here, including some that are not even photographed yet. Last weekend I did try the Named Shadi skirt and made 2 (knit skirts, so fast...). BUT it is this time, you know the one that comes every 8 weeks. I will be traveling to Guatemala (for rest) and Panama (for work). I have hopes to take pictures before and write blog posts during my holidays. We will see how this goes.Now, I would really like to hear about your strategies to make clothes that suit your lifestyle and not be distracted by pretty prints and patterns releases !  

Lekala 4362 - Michael Kors

Sewing Tidbits

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Dear Readers,I made a terrible mistake. The sign that my pinterest board has become too big for my eyes has come. When I said that I was going to make Lekala 4362 because it reminded me of a Ralph Lauren design, I was terribly wrong... It was Michael Kors. Let's see it in pictures :Now that I confessed my mistake, let's look at my version, my Michael Kors knock-off very own Mickael Chors dress.wpid766-Lekala-4362-front-main.jpg wpid768-Lekala-4362-back.jpgThe differences that you can notice with the original "inspiration" are 1/ the pleats at the shoulder and 2/ the symmetrical hem. Although number 2 is deliberate, I have to admit that number 1 is probably linked to my limited non-existant understanding of russian...The fabric is an extremely lightweight denim bought before I moved out of NYC at Moods. I know it looks like linen but it's not, I promise!wpid772-Lekala-4362-front-second.jpg wpid776-Lekala-4362-closeup2.jpgwpid774-lekala-4362-closeup.jpgOn the opposite of my Lekala experience, this pattern required quite some work before I "made it work". First, as you know the patterns are generated automatically to fit your measurements, which I believe is fine when doing simple shapes, but becomes a bit more complicated when there are slashes and pleats and rotated darts all over... So that means WALKING ALL THE SEAMS, to make sure they match.The good thing is that I could still trust the fit enough not to make a muslin (time is a rare luxury these days). However the bottom part did not come "exactly as expected". On the below pictures the dress is just pinned at the sides on my form :wpid758-lekala-4362-form-before.jpgHum... Not really what I had in mind so I re-draped the front skirt portion and transferred the changes to the pattern to get this :wpid754-Lekala-4362-skirt-redraft.jpgwpid762-lekala4362-form-after.jpgI also took the back in before inserting the invisible zipper and decided to do my usual 4" inches tapering on pencil skirts, adding a slit at the back because it was obviously too late for a vent... I drafted a lining (the front bodice lining is included, one less thing to do) and found the most luscious silk twill in my stash. I have 0 idea where it comes from but if I had to (wondering who would threaten to take my dog if I could not remember where each piece of my stash is from?? The stash police maybe...), I would bet on Paron's in NYC.Oops blurry... The correction is in red!wpid764-Lekala-4362-lining.jpgFor the construction side, it went rather smoothly. I finished the lining edges to edges (the lining is a tiny bit smaller than the dress) because I hate facings. Did I tell you I hate facings? Ok, yes I probably did... But really, I HATE facings. The invisible zipper, the best one I ever sewed according to The Old Man, was inserted following the technique that I mentioned several times. Because it's the best. Yes. It. Is.One last thing, there is a new feature on the russian lekala website (leko-mail.net), if you click on "order" for a pattern, then under the technical drawing the last icon before the "save" button takes you to a page where you can CHANGE THE COLOR OR THE PRINT of the illustration. OMG. SO MUCH FUN!!! Go and try it for the dress I just made, and it works for all their recent patterns!Sometimes I wonder how a company can be so advanced on their core technology (automated made to measure patterns!!) and so behind with their website designs and marketing... What do you think ? Do you enjoy this fun feature ?Come back soon because I've been away from the blog for the only valid reason: I've been sewing a lot (well at least for my standards)... More later!

Faux Lace Nettie Dress

Sewing Tidbits

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Close Front - Nettie Dress Side View - Nettie Dress Back View - Nettie DressIt's very rare that I use independent pattern companies. It's even more rare that I decide to use them right after they are released. Unless you have been living under a rock buried under your stash the last few weeks, you have seen many many iterations of Nettie, the bodysuit pattern released by Closet Case Files. Frankly, I am not sure a bodysuit would add anything in my life (but I understand that it can be useful to others) so I had a look but did not pay all that much attention. But then, I saw this dress made by the lovely Lindsay. I did not have a choice anymore, I NEEDED IT NOW. Unfortunately, knit is NOT an easy thing to find in Port-au-Prince AND the old man tends to make those comments about new fabric purchases that cool me down a bit. So I know I had to be sneaky. And sneaky I was! When I was told that the daughter of our friends dreamt about having a mermaid tail she could swim in (more later), I happily volunteered myself, knowing that it would mean a trip to the fabric store without The Old Man. And there it was, waiting for me, lace printed knit that looks A LOT like the one Carolyn used recently or the illustration of the Nettie pattern. The worst part is that I did not even realize it was the same as the illustration until Heather pointed it out on Instagram.Close Bottom - Nettie Dress Close back - Nettie DressIn the same weekend, I completed my mermaid making commitments, I ignored the less-than-convinced comments from the old man about the fabric and tackled the Nettie on Sunday afternoon. By Sunday evening, after taking a nap and a break for dinner, the dress was done. The old man was so impressed that i/ he admitted he was wrong about the fabric and ii/ he wondered why my other projects are all so long. Men... But I mean COME ON, he admitted he was wrong about something, that NEVER happens.Regarding the pattern I used the high front neckline and the lowest back. I was a bit concerned about the sizing since I had the initial version of the pattern, before Heather amended it. But I decided that my knit had enough stretch so I cut a size 4 (so if I understood correctly this size would now be a 2 and is not included in the pattern anymore) and graded out to a 6 at the hips just to be sure. I also shorthened the sleeves because I have creepy baby length arms and the cropped sleeves would have ended at my wrists...Dressform front nettie dress Dressform Side - Nettie Dress Dressform Back - Nettie DressI did not really use the instructions, first because I did not use my regular machine but my serger (and I don't baste, I hate basting) and second I prefer to construct knit flat as much as possible (except hems). That means that I joined 1 shoulder, added the neck binding, closed the second shoulder, sewed the sleeves in the armholes and closed the side seams from the bottom of the hem to the end of the sleeve. The hems were serged, turned and topstitched twice to mimic the effect of a coverstitch.Neckbinding - Nettie DressInside Front - Nettie Dress Inside back - Nettie Dress Inside close - Nettie Dress Cup - Nettie Dress I used the instructions to add the shelf bra. I am still undecided about the cups. I destroyed an old bra to steal the cups but I don't know if they add to the silhouette or detract from it. The dress has not been taken out on a date yet so I guess that a few hours of test wearing will tell me if I like the cups or not. By the way, yes, I know this dress needs a date. I told the old man and I wore it around the house to signal my impatience so it should be coming soon. Unless we get knocked down by the epidemic of Chikungunya. And I really hope it is not the case because we are leaving to France in 10 days. I do not want to be sick, I want to be able to sneak around to by fabric and hide it in my suitcase!!Finally, I believe that the Nettie dress requires a Vixen pose, so here it is :Front - Nettie Dress To finish on an unrelated note I changed the design of my blog. I hope you like it and that it makes reading easier! Let me know if you have comments.What do you think about bodysuits ? Do you wear them? And more importantly, do you have to hide to buy fabric???

Linen dresses part I

Sewing Tidbits

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20140318-091635.jpg20140318-091608.jpg 20140318-091553.jpg 20140318-091505.jpg 20140318-091543.jpg OK I know I announced a lot of posts, or at least weekly ones, but of course life/work got in the way. I'm currently enjoying freezing in the streets of NYC for a quick 5 days and then I will be off to Guatemala. I made this dress before the end of 2013, and it is sort of an experiment than could be entitled "what happens when you let your boyfriend design your dress?".First of all, I have to say that he is very interested in women dressing. Like we shop together, for real. He does not wait around the entrance looking like he's trying to escape. He selects clothes on the rack, wait around the dressing rooms, gives his opinion about fit and quality of material, etc. I've never been so much of a group shopper but for some reason it works well and generally if I follow his advice I get a lot of compliments by strangers later... So ok I give in, a guy may have better taste than me to dress me... After doing a closet clean-out due to some weight loss and style evolutions, I talked him into defining a dress he would like to see me in.Overall no big surprises : it's short, it's fitted and in a solid color... Men... He also made the specific requirement that it should be linen (and navy). Which is good because it's the only natural fiber readily available in Haiti (at high cost though).For the pattern I used the made to measure lekala 5166 that I used for my little 90's dress. I altered the pattern to make a sleeveless dress (bring the underarm seam up and in), removed the back seam and its shaping so it's a bit more loose in the waist, raise the neck line and create a placket opening, and finally lengthen it  a little. I'm sticking to my strategy of working based on Lekala patterns, and it has been very rewarding so far!20140318-091648.jpg 20140318-091700.jpg 20140318-091713.jpg 20140318-091738.jpg Construction was fairly simple, I finished the seams with french seams and the front placket unbuttons down to the waist so no need for other closures. I fused the placket pieces and the opening on the dress. Unfortunately I only had white interfacing but it's on the inside so it does not bother me too much. Since I made that dress well over 3 months ago, it got a lot of wear already. Comfortable + flattering + easy to wash = heavy rotation!!20140318-091726.jpg 20140318-091523.jpg Overall the experiment was a total success so we tried a second time. I already have the pictures of that second (linen... again...) dress and should be able to post it soon! What about you ? Have you ever let someone else decide on all the aspects of a garment you were going to sew for yourself? Is your partner a good source of advice for clothing or does he run away when you say you are looking for constructive criticism ?

Sewing with Lekala patterns - Part III / A simple dress

Sewing Tidbits

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The last time that I managed to take pictures for this skirt, I also did this Lekala 5166. BUT while I was uploading them in Iphoto, something went wrong - Iphoto quit "unexpectedly" - and the pictures were GONE. Already deleted from the camera and nowhere in Iphoto. I could have cried.2 weeks later, I'm looking for a picture for a friend and I ended up founding the pictures of the dress in the photostream of my Iphone. My friend could not have cared less because I was trying to find for him the picture that a Haitian Government official uses as a chat profile pic where he happens to be topless with 3 rottweilers (yes it's true... and the guy well into his 50's). Anyway, I cared more about my dress!!If you remember, I scared you in this post deciding to use an old school Lekala Pattern, namely Lekala 5166. IT IS scary on paper but in real life it's just a cute fitted dress! The only change I made to the pattern (made to measure with the Lekala advanced features) was to make it shorter, waaaay shorter. I also changed the seam allowances in the back on the dress and the facings to apply my favorite invisible zipper method.There is not much more to say apart that I LOVE THIS DRESS and I already modified the pattern to make a sleeveless version out of linen (waiting to be photographed). Next time that I will make it with sleeves I want to remove maybe 1/2" of ease in the sleeve head as it almost puckered.The fabric was bought in Mood NYC when I went back in June. It's from Anna Sui, it was in the silk section but I have to admit that I never saw a silk with such a weave... As you can see on the back I paid absolutely NO attention to print matching. Should I have to? I don't think I care (which is weird because I'm usually slightly obsessive about this kind of things)!For the construction I mostly used my 4-thread serger as I am trying to teach myself to use it more. Since you can't really cout on the instructions here is my order of construction :

  1. Sew the front and back darts
  2. Serge shoulder seams on the dress and the facings
  3. Serge side seams
  4. Serge underarm seam and hem the sleeves.
  5. Set sleeve in armhole, serge the finished seam.
  6. Serge Center back seams separately, attach invisible zipper, sew the back seam, attach facings to zipper and sew facing to the neck of the dress.
  7. Hem the dress
  8. DONE!!

It really is a quick one and the result quite 90's but nice and easy to wear. The dress form shots :

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Did I convince you to use Lekala yet? Is print matching absolutely mandatory? But most importantly: How much 90's is too much 90's??

Easy striped dress, another SBCC pattern...

Sewing Tidbits

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I'm very late on blogging for 2 reasons: first I was Panama for a training last week (bought indigenous fabrics, so pretty!!) and second, my free time has been dedicated to finding a new house in Port-au-Prince to move in with The Old Man (picture at the end of this post).BUT sewing has still been happening. Altought at a reduced pace... I was very happy with the results of my first try with SBCC patterns, so I decided to go ahead and buy another one. Although I like the fit of these patterns, I'm not sure how many of the current offering I will make because the patterns are not exactly my style.Anyway, I settled for the Lemon Drop Dress. Unlike what is shown on the technical sketch below, the dress and the tops have a pleat detail at the center front.Overall the fit is extremely close to perfect. The dress is comfortable and it's a very easy project. It also helped that I now know you are supposed to butt the pages together and not overlap them (Pattern Review proving it's still indispensable...)CIMG2285The fabric is a vintage linen-and-something-blend that I got during my last trip to Paris. I know I promised that I would make a post about the fabrics I got there but I did not manage to see Lakaribane since I came back and I don't want to spoil the surprise fabric I brought for her... Going back to this fabric, I know this is a blend because it does not wrinkle (YAY!!) but it still has a very natural/raw feel to it.As I was saying, the fit in the armhole area is excellent (no gaping, YAY!!) and slight racerback is quite nice.CIMG2280It's a very easy dress to wear and even though it is quite simple in its shape, I got compliments when I wore it to the office (with flat sandals, shiny gold heels are not exactly logistics-base-approved).CIMG2282For the construction, I have to admit that I was slightly disappointed. Only because the instructions of the free pattern were so good. For this dress, the instructions are very succinct. Here is what I did :1. Prepare the back bend and sew it on the back. Sew the darts on the front.2. Sew one shoulder seam (yes only one), with a french seam3. Sew the bias binding on the neckline. I personnally like to first press the bias band in two, lenghtwise, sew the right side of the binding on the wrong side of the dress. Press the band up, fold and press the seam allowance of the band and then topstitch on the right side. I'm sure I'm not the only one doing it like this, I just couldn't find one of the gazillion of tutorials that must have been written on the topic (wait, I just found one on Burdastyle).IMG_1071 IMG_10684. Close the second shoulder (french seam again)5. Bind the armholes (same as above)6. Close the side seams (yes, french seams)7. Hem and make the tie, BAM new dress!!As you can see this is a super easy dress, not particularly trendy, in a fabric that should age well. Therefore, I think it's totally worth making it as nice inside so it lasts for a while (ie. french seams).I made size extra-small and my only alteration was taking an additional 1/4" on each side seam (total reduction 1") but I think that this is my personal preference for slightly more fitter garments. For the Petite ladies out there, some great fit details that do not require alteration in addition to the already mentionned great fitting armholes :Length is good without shortening!!Bust darts hit the right spot!Tie and channel is at the real waist level !I think I could also wear it with the tie, tied in the back, but I'm not too sure about it :IMG_1069 IMG_1070What do you think??Also as promised in the beginning of the post, below is a picture of our new house!! We signed the lease yesterday and I'm very excited about it! In case you were getting tired of the backdrop of my balcony, well it will be one of the last times you see it. However, I will have a garden now (that needs A LOT of work) so pictures will still be outside. Another good news is that I will also still have a dedicated sewing room.photoThe house comes furnished, and the walls just got repainted but there will be some sewing required for fancy pillows, curtains, and other little things to make it homey. I hope it won't be to boring for you guys. I already have some home decor plans for the fabrics I brought back from Panama that I will talk about later!Any good online resources for sewing for your home that I should know about ?

Burda Open Back Dress 03/2013

Sewing Tidbits

EDIT - New close-ups I found on my phone. Yes I'm one of this people who has a phone that takes better pictures than her camera. I should do something about it but I don't feel like jumping the "reflex" step yet...I finally got around taking the pictures and writing the post about this dress that I finished two weeks ago !! If you follow me on Instagram, you know that I had some issues with the fit, but here is the final result :CIMG0067For some reason the picture quality is not nice this time, I apologize!  I made the dress in size 17 (Burda petite sizing, see pattern here), which is my usual size and I normally have very little fit problems. Well not this time...CIMG0060I really like the full skirt and the open back but the dress does not seem to agree to stay in place. The back tends to ride up and the shoulders tends to come closer to the neck preventing the neckline from lying nice and flat...CIMG0073The fabric is a printed silk I found here in Port-au-Prince (I was so happy). I used a brown cotton poplin for the sash and the lining of the bodice. This poplin have been in my stash forever. I remember packing it almost 4 years ago when I moved from France to Zambia. I, of course, had packed my sewing machine and some notions. I added this fabric as a "just in case". Fabrics were amazing in Zambia so there was no case but it followed me to New York and finally found its use in Haiti where it found its match with this silk.CIMG0083I'm not sure if I like it more with or without the sash... Any opinion ?CIMG0092Anyway... Regarding the fit, it did not show any issue when put on my form so I was disappointed when I tried it on before putting in the zipper and it was GAPPING like CRAZY on the side. I'm not one afraid to show some skin but this was waaaaayy to close to a potential wardrobe malfunction. I let it rest for a few days and then I decided to scoop the neckline a little and I added some "darts" on the back pieces. See below :

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Construction is fairly simple once you figure out the instructions. I fused all the outside edges of the bodice with the fusible tape I got for a ridiculous price one day at Pacific Trimmings in NYC.

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For the straps, the idea is to sew them up to where they are going to connect to the cap sleeve, clip and turn them out. Then you can enclose them between the self and the lining.

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I am not yet fully proficient with my serger so I just zigzagged the raw edges of the sleeves :

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For the invisible zipper, as usual I used the Fashion Incubator tutorial. For some reason in the last few weeks I saw it popping up on other sewing blogs (yes, plural) as a "new" way of finishing zippers and lining with no hand sewing, but it's been around on Fashion Incubator since 2005!!

Some dressform shots where you can see what I was saying about the back riding up :

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 And finally some better quality close-ups...

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So, sash or no sash ??