Friday, November 28, 2014

Time for a Pajama Party!


I hope that you are having a great Thanksgiving weekend!  Do you go out shopping on Black Friday?  While Black Friday is the official start of the holiday shopping season, for me, it is the official start of the holiday sewing season!  I usually stay home and start my gift giving sewing. 


I love to sew pajama pants and robes for holiday presents.  Although I make them for my family, I had not made myself a robe and pajamas for years, so, I decided to treat myself to a new set.

We live in Illinois where we can get bitterly cold winters, so I chose Fabric Mart's sky blue polar fleece for the robe.  This is a higher quality fleece than the fleeces you can find in the chain stores.  It is light, stretchy and velvety soft.  My cat with claws has not yet been able to snag it, which means it should last for years!

The robe pattern is McCall's 5769, with 13 inches added to the length.  This pattern is now out of print, but really any robe pattern will work.  The main differences in robe patterns seem to be whether you want a shawl collar or not, and whether you want inseam or patch pockets.   
Applying Wonder Tape to interfaced band.  The black is a fusible knit interfacing.

My trick for professional looking pockets and front bands is to interface them with a lightweight knit interfacing, then use Wonder tape to adhere the stitching area.  If you've not used Wonder Tape before, you must try it!   It's a double sided tape that takes the place of pins, and it is ideal for pockets, zippers, or anything that you don't want to shift when you are sewing.  I also use a double needle to top stitch the pocket top, attach the pocket to the robe, and to stitch the front band down. 


For the pajamas, I used a rayon lycra knit.  Rayon knits are breathable and super soft.  I know that especially at this time of year, you can buy all polyester pajamas that are super cheap.  I really prefer to sew my own out of a breathable fabric.

The pattern is McCalls 7061.   This is a new release with several variations on the standard hoodie plus shorts, pants, and booties.

The bootie pattern was a little vague on the sizing, and I cut the Large because I wear a size 9 shoe.  It ended up being HUGE, and I ended up cutting it down a couple of sizes to fit better.  My old fleece robe is  the black lining.   Check out the cute gripper fabric with feet for the bottoms!



My fabric was super stretchy, so I interfaced the kangaroo pocket with a piece of lightweight knit interfacing to  keep it from bagging, and to keep the edges  from waving.  Next, I applied Wonder Tape to attach the edges to the shirt front.
Pocket prep with fusible interfacing and Wonder tape.  Neckline stabilizing with twill tape.

I also serged in a twill tape in the hood/neckline seam because it was going to stretch out of shape unless I added in something to stabilize it.  I buy twill tape in bulk because it is a soft, inexpensive way to stabilize.  Just feed it into the serger stitching line as you are sewing the seam.



I’m SEW happy to have my new pajamas, robe and booties!   What presents do you like to sew for your holiday gift giving? 

Have a great holiday weekend!

Ann

Sunday, November 9, 2014

Violet, Grey and Black Mini-Wardrobe

My daughter's 24th birthday is this month, and when I asked her what she wanted for her birthday, she said "Could you make me some new clothes?".  Music to my ears!  I've had a horrible cold all weekend and haven't left the house for 3 days because I've been so sick, but it gave me plenty of time to think about what I could make.  I napped a little, sewed a little, napped a little sewed a little. 


Serena started her first professional job last year, and she works as a food engineer in Chicago.  She can wear anything that she wants to work, but she really likes dresses.  She also has a long commute to get to her job, which involves about a mile walk each morning in the Chicago weather, plus standing outside at the train station every day in the bitter cold.  So, I thought I would make her some things to make that commute a little warmer, and still be fun and appropriate for a 24 year old engineer.  I started pulling fabrics from my stash, and a violet, grey, black theme started.

Then I went to my Burda magazines for inspiration, and came across this top and skirt set from the October issue.  I made the top out of a chevron print rayon challis, and the skirt from a dove grey wool gabardine. 

I think the top is really fun and she can pull from any of those colors for her accessories.

The skirt isn't completed yet- I still need to line and hem it, but I want it to fit her like a glove, so I'm going to wait until she can try it on.


I liked that top so much, that I pulled another polyester crepe from my stash to make a second one.  Both of these fabrics were "mystery bundle" fabrics from Fabric Mart.

I think that the skirt looks fine with both.  But if she likes the skirt style, I have a dark violet wool gabardine, that I'd make a second one from.  I just love this skirt shape too.  Ignore the wrinkles- that should go away when I line it.

She wanted some dresses, but I knew that they needed to be wash and wear and comfortable.  This is a Scuba fabric that I picked up at Hancock's.  I didn't even know it was scuba, until I started working with it, and then it dawned on me- this is too springy to be a normal ponte.  Also, it didn't absorb any water when I prewashed it.  It was dry as a bone coming out of the wash.  I think she's going to like this one.

I used the Winter Street Dress pattern from Patternreview.com.  I did add some darts to give it a little more shaping so the waist would be a little more fitted.

I wanted to make a top layer in case her office is chilly.  I had this houndstooth ponte knit, and used McCalls 7026.  
This is a zip front sweatshirt pattern, but out of the houndstooth, I think it looks more business casual. It can go with absolutely everything in this capsule!  It's got some really nice design lines to it- I think I'd like to make one of these for myself.

I had another ponte in the violet/black combination, and decided to make a second Winter Street Dress from it.  I put in side seam pockets in both of the Winter Street Dresses.  That's one of the advantages to making things yourself.  You hardly ever see a ready to wear dress with pockets these days. 
The scarf is a silk chiffon, that I bought a length of and made two scarves- I have one, and she has the other, so I know she can do this look!


I still have one more piece for this that I want to make and that's a full length coat.  But, I want to make sure that she'll wear one if I make it.  I have an idea of mixing some very dark purple wool coating, with a black and white houndstooth wool and some black leather.  Not sure how this is going to play out yet, but stay tuned!

 -Ann



Wednesday, November 5, 2014

A Marbella Dress for November

Is your sewing palette influenced by the seasons?

Despite knowing what colors are supposed to look good on my complexion, I ignore that advice and sew fabric that feels like the season.  According to the 80's classic style guide "Color Me Beautiful", I'm either a Spring or a Summer, but those shades feel so wrong this time of year.  So, with Fall in full swing, I turn to golds, browns and greens.  My cornucopia colors. 

I received this stretch peachskin autumn toned print in a Mystery Bundle from FabricMart in May.  At that time,  I swear that I thought it was the most hideous fabric ever.   I was going into my summer color phase.  I almost made it into a muslin a few times, then almost gave it away.  But what a difference a few months made in my attitude!  When Kennis from Itch to Stitch asked me if I'd like to make her new Marbella Dress pattern, I knew I had to make it out of this fabric! 

The Marbella Dress is a sleeveless dress PDF pattern with sizes 00-20 and cup sizes A-D included.  I was a little skeptical about the cup sizes, as the designer said that the final garment measurements wouldn't change with different cup sizes.    She advises that you just choose the size closest to your bust measurement, and then use the pattern piece closest to your bra cup size.  That is different than most multi-cup size patterns that I've seen.   However, it worked!  Not just okay, but perfectly!  I think this might be the best bust fit I've gotten in a pattern without alterations!  Yay, Itch to Stitch! 

Another extremely convenient feature to this pattern was that you could print out only the size(s) that you need, using a layering option in the PDF file.  I'd not seen this before, and it really helps to increase accuracy in cutting.  Since I sew for my 3 daughters, who are all different sizes, I anticipate using this feature several times in the future.  

The instructions are extremely detailed, and for people that are new to sewing, these would be extremely helpful.  You will get a very well made garment from the methods that she uses.  That said- I did skip a few of the steps, just based on the fact that my fabric has quite a bit of stretch and body, and I knew that I could get away with a few shortcuts.   

You can make this lined or unlined, and I chose to not line it.  The peachskin fabric has a slippery, lining like feel to the wrong side.    I really am impressed with this fabric.  I hope that I will see more of it on the FabricMart website, as I'd like to try it in some other colors.  It's just incredibly soft to the touch.  And so far, not too static-y, which is one pet peeve I have with synthetic fibers. 

This time of year, I will probably need to wear it most of the time with a second layer.  I could have gone with a turtleneck underneath, but I chose to go with a cardigan from McCalls 6844  in a steel blue sweater knit.  This is more complimentary to my skin tone than the dress itself, but it blends well with the fall shades in the print.

Oh, and I don't want to forget to mention my favorite part- pockets!   I know, I know.  You can add pockets to any dress really.  But it is so nice to have it included in the pattern with the correct markings. 

I did lengthen the skirt section 1-1/2".  I'm 5'9'' for reference.  I also took in the waist and hips to fit a little more snugly.  Since my fabric has stretch, I could do that.  If I make it from a woven fabric, I probably would leave the waist and hips as designed for my size.

The pattern is currently on sale, until November 8th, so if you would like a great classic dress pattern in multiple sizes with great directions (and who wouldn't want that!), here's a link for you:  Marbella Pattern.  I hope that we'll see many more patterns coming from Itch to Stitch!



Do you sew colors that go with the seasons. or do you stick with a year round palette that flatters you?  What will you be wearing on Thanksgiving?


Happy Sewing!

Ann





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