Monday, March 2, 2015

Chevron Crochet Lace Top from McCalls 6754

I know that everyone has different thoughts about buying fabric.  Should you have a plan for it when you buy it?  Do you buy the pattern first, or the fabric first?  I'm much more of a fabric first person.  Sometimes I just buy a fabric because it is different (and on sale!), but I have absolutely no clue what to do with it.  Then I wait, and wait, and sometimes wait some more, until the inspiration hits me. 

That's what happened with this fabric.  It's a chevron striped crochet lace that I picked up at Hancock fabrics last year.  I had just been to Italy and had tried on some genuine Missoni dresses, and was inspired by them, but really didn't have a vision for this fabric.  But I thought it was pretty special, and at the very least, I thought it could be a cool swimsuit cover-up.

I am teaching a class using McCall's 6754 as the base pattern later this month, and wanted to sew up a sample to show the students what it would look like in real life.  I was going through several fabric options, and then it hit me.  If I could get the chevron of the lace to match on the center front, back, and princess seams, it would be a great style for this fabric.

I still had my serger set on the rolled edge settings from my bias skirt project, and started sewing the seams before I realized that. I decided to keep the rolled edge settings so that the seams would be barely noticeable through the lacy sections.   I also used that for my hem finish.  For the neckline, I used a length of single fold bias tape.

The selvedge on the fabric looked like a piece of white rickrack, and I cut the sleeves so that this would be on the edge.  It made them a little longer than the pattern sleeve.

The only complaint that I have about this pattern is that the neckline is quite wide and low.  I  moved the cutting line in about an inch, and it is still pretty wide.

The dress form has a green cami underneath the top, and I think that will be how I wear it as well.  I think it will go with white jeans or skirts nicely.  I've made the dress once, and I think it should be a  really flattering silhouette on many shapes and sizes, which is why I chose it for the class project.  I'm excited to work with my students to see their versions of this pattern as well!

So how about you?  Do you have a strategy when it comes to buying fabric?  Are you a fabric first or pattern first kind of seamstress?

Happy Sewing!


Sunday, March 1, 2015

The Chocolate Box Dress

If you've been wondering what to do with all of the empty chocolate box containers that you have from Valentine's Day, here's an idea for you:  make a ballgown!  This dress is the creation of Laura Billimack of Champaign, IL for the 2015 Hatch Trashion Show held in Urbana, IL.  Don't you want to know how she did it?  How many boxes of chocolate does one have to eat?  

The lovely model is one of my daughter's best friends, the vivacious Ciara Reilly.  Ciara did know that the containers came empty from the IDEA store.  The IDEA store is a eco-edu-art non-profit marketplace in Champaign, IL where people can donate things that they are not using for other people to buy them to use!  You can find the greatest things there- like a huge stack of empty chocolate boxes!

They had many other great recycled fashions (or trashions!) coming down the runway, but I wasn't close enough to get any more photos.   I believe they had over 50  fabulous entries, but this one really stole the show!  Hats off to Ms. Billimack for such a great design!

What do you think?  Could you have imagined such a gorgeous dress from empty chocolate boxes?

Happy Sewing!

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Two in One! Reversible Maxi Skirt and Butterick 6175

If you are like me, you love it when you can get double anything.  Double cash-back, double chocolate, double the fun!   Reversible clothes fit right into the double fun category.  This skirt is actually two skirts in one.  Side one is a beautiful silk chiffon tie-dye print.  Side two is a solid silk-cotton voile in a stunning royal blue.  Both fabrics are from

The pattern is for a bias cut skirt, Kwik Sew 3087.  It's now out of print, but you can find similar bias cut skirt patterns from all of the major pattern brands.  Why choose bias?  Garments cut on the bias are supposed to drape more gracefully than straight cut garments.  They do take more fabric than a straight cut skirt, but I think it's worth it.  Check out this similarly cut designer skirt on Net-a-Porter for $585!  You can make it, even out of silk, for a whole lot less!

The pattern is just one piece. To make it reversible, you just sew both skirts together at the waistband, and then make an elastic casing with the joining seam at the top.  You are supposed to hem both skirts at the same length, but I tried to make the solid side a tad longer.

The top that I'm wearing with the print skirt is from Butterick 6175.   I wanted to make a short top  out of cream linen that would just be a blank canvas for a long necklace.   I used View B with the bell sleeves.  There is a more tapered short sleeve if you don't like the bell look.

This is a super little pattern that may be a sleeper, but it will work with so many of my printed skirts, that I bet I will get a ton of use from it.  I lowered the neckline about 1-1/2", so that I could avoid having to make the button opening in the back.  I also used a bias strip to bind the neckline rather than have a facing.

Back to the bias skirt.  If you've never made a bias cut garment before, be aware that you need to let the garment hang for at least 24 hours before you hem it.  This is because the garment will grow unevenly, and you'll need to even it out before your final hem.  Here is a photo of what my skirt bottom looked like after 24 hours.  Even though the chiffon and the voile were cut the exact same length, the chiffon grew several inches longer!  To even it out, I walked a yardstick along the skirt, and marked the same level all around each layer.  Then I trimmed off any excess.  If you don't have a dress form, you can have another person do this while you are wearing it.

Hemming a bias cut chiffon is a recipe for frustration, so I decided to use my serger's rolled edge settings and finish each layer with a royal blue rolled edge.

I know that some people don't think maxi-skirts are terribly practical, but I find them extremely easy to wear.  How many skirts can you sit cross-legged with?  And who cares if you haven't shaved your legs in a while?  But, I also don't wear mine so long that they drag on the ground.  Two inches above the ground, and I won't worry about tripping over my skirt.  I won't be running any races in this, but then again, I'm not running races in anything!

So, I don't know which side I like best.  What do you think?  What's your favorite skirt length?

Happy Sewing!

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