Fast Sewing is OK Too!

Part of setting my creative goals for 2019 (and procrastinating from setting my creative goals for 2019) includes me reviewing the social media from the rest of our amazing community to see what projects and challenges brought you personal joy and growth in 2018. I noticed myself particularly drawn to the intention behind things like:

With so many talented designers, it is easy to be seduced by the most recent pattern release (and I’m certain I’ll still buy many patterns in 2019), but I need to analyze and prioritize based on my current wardrobe and its holes both metaphorically (the categories of garments I wish I had) and literally (that purple cardigan with the hole!).

Please note, this post may contain affiliate links. If you click these links and decide to purchase, I may earn a small commission which helps support my sewing hobby.

Thus, my first make for myself in 2019: Tawsha from New Horizons.

While my summer, spring, and fall wardrobes are heavy on dresses (I add a cardigan when things get chilly), I noticed myself scanning my closet for long sleeve dresses now that I’m in the winter. My daughter and I are total dress fiends so I’m not sure how I didn’t notice this gap sooner!

I have an abundance of dress patterns that I’ve made and love like this, this, this, and this but none that are a simple aline with long sleeves. I was wanting something with a super simple silhouette that I could jazz up with accessories like scarves and necklaces or dress down with sneakers depending on the fabric and accessories.

While I’m all for the more complex woven patterns like this and this, I find myself rummaging through my closet for the fast knit ones for my daily wear. I love that I can comfortably lounge around the house in this and not feel embarrassed to answer the door if someone happens to drop by.

I love New Horizons because their block just fits me really well without a ton of adjustments. I took out some length to adjust for height (I’m 5’3). I’ll likely add a little of that back in (just a personal preference) and fiddle with the armscye to fit my shape even better.

I already made two Tawsha dresses. This one is made from fabric already in my stash (another goal for this year is to sew more of my stash!). The body and arms are a sweater knit from Sincerely Rhylee and the shoulder accent is a quilted knit from Joann Fabrics.

I’m still pretty obsessed with tone on tone but part of me wished I had used this grape sweater knit from my stash for the body instead so this cool shoulder accent could really pop. Regardless, it is getting a ton of wear! I sewed it last week and have already worn it 3 days. I also made a version without the accent from a knit corduroy and have been wearing it around the house without hems.

I loved the simplicity of the pattern, its a dress with a fitted bust and A-line skirt (my favorite) but the bodice and skirt are cut as one so they sewed up super fast. Even better, I’m already on my way to keeping my goals in mind for 2019:

  • Fills a hole in my wardrobe 
  • Used fabric from my stash
  • Is well fitting and will wear again 

Twirling Away

My daughter and I are huge fans of the Pearlie dress from Peach Patterns (see this post on Instagram). It is a great fitting dolman style dress with a gathered skirt with a really fun curved hem. So, when Marina Roussel‎ (the designer at Peach Patterns) mentioned she was testing an add-on, our love affair with the Twirly Pearlie began.

The fabulously fitting original slim bodice got a lovely circle skirt in two lengths (peplum and dress), an optional waistband (lengthens the dress length skirt from vintage to knee), and long sleeves (it is cold here in the midwest USA winter!).

The first version I made used the waistband, dress length skirt, and the long sleeves. Definitely TWIRLY PEARLIE!

Ah, she was in love!!!! This clock fabric was double-brushed polyester from Made of Love and this polka dot accent is DBP from Mily Mae.

This was such a hit, my next version was in lush Art Gallery mint polka dot accented by the much-hoarded ice cream from Jumping June (similar).

I love how fast the dolman style sleeve and circle skirt sew up. Gathered skirts like the original Pearlie are so pretty, but, dang, if they aren’t the fiddliest! Hemming a circle skirt is not my most favorite thing, but the extra twirl makes is well worth it!

For this last version, we used this uber soft fuchsia DBP from Simply by Ti. Ti has THE BEST fabrics and shop. I got a set of these rotary blades she recently started carrying and using a fresh one was perfection, especially for cutting around curves.   

The new Pearlie pieces can be bought in two ways:

  • If you own the original Pearlie, all you need is this add-on 
  • If you don’t already have the Pearlie, you can get the add-on pieces and the original in this bundle.

The instructions are super clear and this is a terrific pattern for newer seamstresses or those looking for a quick sew. I hoping to assembly line a bunch over the holidays!

This was such a dreamy dress, she decided to wear it to a breakfast with Santa.

Seamstress to the Princess

My 3 (nearly 4!) year-old daughter Violet is a total fashionista. I recently browsed Sis Boom dress patterns to find something that she would enjoy to wear for the holidays. She loves feminine details and full skirts. I picked out a few that fit the bill, and showed them to her one evening. She told me she wanted “all them” (my kind of pattern shopper!), but confidently settled on the Gabriella Fae. I suspect this twirling image helped seal the deal. Gabriella Fae – here we come! 

Part of being the world’s greatest dress hound includes having fine taste in textiles. As a fabric connoisseur, Violet has a very definitive preference in color (pink and sparkly being at the top) and texture (soft!!! Must be comparable in softness to her favorite lamb blanket). While my mini mistress put her eye on several suitably pink fabrics during our shopping expedition, it was a white fabric with silver metallic through it that won her over. 

The pattern itself was pretty easy to work once I read through and had a feeling for all the options (this pattern is pretty loaded!). The Gabriella Fae comes with options for a flat or gathered front and back bodice. That part of the garment is also lined. So, if you select a gathered overlay piece, you also need a flat piece for the lining. Violet chose a gathered front (requiring the gathered front overlay piece and a flat front for my lining) and a flat back (simply two mirrored images of the flat back, one pair for the outer layer and one for the lining).

I blogged about this before, but Violet is quite a peanut for her height. This can make blending sizes quite the ordeal, depending on each designer’s block. I picked a starting size per the instructions and then used their handy images and suggestions to determine how to cut the sleeve and skirt lengths. Wanna hear a spectacular secret? THIS IS THE MUSLIN! 

Whoa, no way, right? It fits just as we envisioned. The sleeves are a touch long but that is 100% user miscalculation and an easy fix on the next round. I love how the lined bodice turned out and adding the zip was super duper simple.

I actually cut and sewed most of the bodice one evening later into the night. A sewing friend across the world messaged me, asking “Becky, what are you doing up so late?”.

Well, sewing beautiful things is entirely addicting! Some of my most relaxing moments in the past year have been when I get to forget about the day to day worries and just sew a dependable pattern while listening to podcasts. Do you feel the mom zen jumping through the screen at you? 

Plus, who needs sleep when there are gorgeous dresses  to be sew?

Check out the dramatic puff on these gathered sleeves. When she sees the final garment, Violet (correctly) shrills, “that is a princess dress!”

I’m absolutely in love with how delicate cuff brings it all together. This looks complicated but is a rather simple finishing technique, easily explained in the instructions. 

I’ve only been a part of the Sis Boom Pattern CO group on Facebook for the past two or so years but I really like the community over there. It is super friendly and has a real spirit of helping out the fellow seamstress. There was a fun thread recently where seamstresses listed people for whom they were trying to sew a gift and group members provided suggestions. 

I was recently looking through the Sis Boom website and came across this in the about section. How perfect for one twin sister to have created a pattern to be worn by another twin sister. 

The Sis Boom Collection, its name adopted from her childhood nickname given to her by her twin brother, defies easy categorization. With unusual artistry and a love of texture and a blend of vivid colors, Jennifer uses tag sales, flea markets and European sources as a starting point to create her art.

http://www.sisboom.com/about/

And she’s off!

I received this pattern in exchange for my review. My words are completely my own.

#Comfytown Nightgown

If we’re at home, my daughter is pretty much in a nightgown (see this post). Pajamas with pants? No way! Nightgowns only. But it is really quite adorable. Plus, I totally get it: I’m an adult and I pretty much live in knit dress or leggings and comfy cardigans.

When I heard the theme for Rebecca Page’s blog tour would be Comfy Town, I thought of my new pippa pants and Cora cardigan and wanted to give my daughter that same feeling of warmth and coziness, but with a girly nightgown sort of spin. 

I used the Paris Party Dress add-on pattern as my starting point. The Paris Party Dress is a FREE pattern Rebecca created for ladies to sew up fabulous outfits for the winter holidays in 2016. Check out her other FREE holiday patterns: Pretty Party Dress (2015) and Portia (2017). Back to the Paris. It is a fitted knit top and woven pleated skirt. For even more options, folks can purchase the add-on pattern and it is absolutely epic.

One option in the add-on includes a slimmer bodice used for creating the skirt and top as a one-piece dress. I also used the puffed sleeves from the add-on pattern because they feel so pretty and girly. I hacked the front and back bodice a few inches below the armpit, then assembled the sleeves and neckband as described in the pattern. 

Next, I used my serger to gather a massive rectangle. Sergers have two sets of feed dogs and your differential controls how fast they are moving in relation to one another. Normally, I have mine set at 1 which means they’re moving at the same speed. For gathering, I play around a bit on a scrap until I get a result I like. Typically, I’m moving my differential up (to “2” I think), and increasing the tension on my right needle to 7, and my left needle to 9 (both these are normally around 4 on my particular machine).

Side note: Interestingly, even two of the same model sergers can require different looper and needle thread tensions when doing the same task with the same fabric because all machines are unique.

Once the fabric was pretty close to the size of the bodice, I finished serging and put my settings back on my machine (something I’ve forgotten to do before!). I straightened out the ruffles in a few places so it looked more uniform. Then, I quickly ran over the ruffled side with my sewing machine using a simple straight stitch to lock them in place. I’ve had issues in the past with the serger unruffling my work when I attach to another piece so it is mostly a quick precaution.

Then, I sewed together the two “short” ends of the former rectangle to create a skirt with a back middle seam. I attached the bodice and skirt, and hemmed to the model’s preference. Super duper easy!

I’m already envisioning more quick nightgown hacks like this. Adding a ruffle to the bottom of the skirt, some sweet embroidery or a ruffles around the bodice. The sky is the limit when you have a terrific base like the Paris Party Dress!

Please visit all the stops on the Rebecca Page Comfy Town Blog Tour. Don’t forget to comment on the blogs each day and enter the giveaway posts in our Facebook group or a chance to win some prizes from Rebecca Page.

  1. Monday, November 26: Rebecca Page (Intro), bigflynotions, Stitched by Jennie
  2. Tuesday, November 27: Ropp OriginalsFlaxfield Sewing
  3. Wednesday, November 28: Simply KyraSeams Sew Lo
  4. Thursday, November 29: Seams Like StyleSixth Snow
  5. Friday, November 30: The Sewing UnicornPatchWitch
  6. Saturday, December 1: Sarcastic SewistBellephantPrincesse et Tresors
  7. Sunday, December 2: Liviality, Soul Fed on Thread

Of course, brother LOVED the props we used and requested a picture as well. These are NOT mommy made PJs (though I would love to see more of Rebecca’s take on little dude wear!). 

**This review contains affiliate links for which I receive a
small commission on any sales but does not cost you more to use.
This helps support my ridiculous fabric collection and is much appreciated.**

Taking Carita to Work

I have a terrible secret: I have never sewn joggers! I’ve never worn a RTW pair and didn’t know if they would suit my curves or not.

When New Horizons released the Carita Joggers, I couldn’t stop noticing how great they looked on all the testers in every size. And, the kicker: the fit was terrific, no strange crotches. I was all in!

I read through the pattern a little more carefully than normal because this was my first pair of pants from New Horizons and I wanted to make my muslin as wearable as possible. Check out what I came up with:

DEFINITELY WEARABLE! These were so spot on, I couldn’t stand myself. It is such a thrill to sew something without a zillion billion adjustments. Yeah, they’re *just* joggers, but my crotch and butt really look as they are intended! These are a lovely drapey soft rayon French terry.

I’m only 5ft 3 so I typically need to take out several inches depending on the pattern and the designer’s block. For the Carita, New Horizons makes this uber easy peasy. The pattern comes with 3 (!) different inseam lengths: 29″, 31″, and 33″. I ended up using the 29″, adjusting a little more for my 27″, graded at the calf based on the measurements chart. It was so quick! And I love that New Horizons comes with an A0 file so even as my body fluctuates, I will easily be able to trace out new lines.

I saw another seamstress extend the legs and forgo the bottom bands and they turned out as perfect skinny pants! I desperately needed to try this hack! I added in the neighborhood of 4 inches. I adore the wide band on the belly too.

I decided the pockets would look more formal if I didn’t topstitch them. So, I left out the binding piece and cut and sewed pocket pieces as if I were making a pair of blue jeans. It came out rather heavier feeling than I anticipated so I’d forgo this part of the hack in the future. I rarely use pockets in pants and often wear longer tops and tunics so its far from a deal breaker. 

For this pair, I used a bright ponte fabric. I’ve had this in my stash for at least a year and it is the perfect way to cheer up these fall days. I’m pairing it with my favorite Vermont cardigan too.

Sew ThankFul

45268996_10214479027864165_8884607822822637568_oWelcome to my stop on the Sewing by Ti‘s November Blog Tour: Sew Thankful.

This month’s theme Sew Thankful can be interpreted in MANY ways. I decided it was a great opportunity to finish up a Christmas gift I started years ago.

I was at a celebration around Thanksgiving time and the host had these super simplistic felt coasters. They were literally two circular pieces of felt with one orange seam down the middle keeping the two layers together. It was very minimalistic/useful and struck a tone.

I went to a local quilt shop and bought some wool felt. I’d definitely steer folks away from the poly blend craft stuff. It isn’t as thick and if condensation is going to get on it daily, you want something a little sturdier. I cut the felt into 4×4 inch squares. I would use two squares per coaster, so eight squares for 4 coasters. I tried out several designs. The result was pretty horrific for such a simple project. Crooked lines and noticeable backstitching made me put it away for a while. Missed that Christmas. (And probably a few others!)

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Then, I had the idea to use the Fray Stop glue I use for buttonholes. I didn’t even bother getting a picture of that travesty. Back into the UFO pile again!

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I recently upgraded to the Babylock Verve. It is considered an entry-level sewing machine for the brand but it is the holy Mecca of Machines to me. Off to the dealer classes I went!

I learned all the jazzy features of this new machine and its zillions of stitches. I have stitches that lock the seam by backstitching three times (first picture below) but I also have stitches that perform a similar locking function by repeating the up/down in place (second picture below). This is particularly helpful when the stitch line is visible (like coasters) and not a project like garments that rely on the strength of the backstitch lock.

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When I learned about this, I immediately thought, “wow, that would solve the one issues I have with the backstitching lock.” I tried the lock in place stitch and was happy enough with the outcome. I decided to get a little crazy and use some of the fun stitches. Everything still isn’t as straight as I’d like them to be but it is one of those gifts that isn’t meant to be perfection. It is fun, hang out type sewing. I listened to a podcast as I constructed these, enjoying the moment and making each seam with a relaxed sort of love soaked in good vibes.

If you’re in my family and reading this, massive apologies, your Christmas gift is no longer a surprise.

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Check out what my blogging friends are up to on the rest of the stops on the Sew Thankful Blog Tour hosted by Sewing by Ti.

Week of November 6th:

Week of November 11th:
Week of November 18th:
Week of November 25th:

 

C&T Lana Blog Tour

Today is my stop on the Coffee and Thread Lana Blog Tour! The Lana is a top/dress with lovely ruffle on a dropped sleeve. To sweeten the pot, Olga, the designer, added a long sleeve to the mix. If you already own the pattern, it will be added to your account 🙂

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I recently helped Olga to test the girls Lana,  There is also a ladies version (or, go crazy and get the ladies/girls bundle). So, when I saw there was a pattern tour, I jumped at the chance to join the fun. I’m not the best for time management so knowing I had a deadline helped me to sew up another version of the pattern my daughter and I know we already love!

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I don’t test as often as I used to but when I see something truly unique (like the Lana ruffle), I can’t not try to test! My first sleeve was a little fiddly but the next version I made went in much easier because Bonnie (here, here, and here are her versions) suggested first sewing along the seam allowance on the sleeve and ruffle individually before sewing them together. Eureka – – TADAH!

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I love learning new tips. I have sewn countless bodices to gathered skirts but never once thought to add a small strip of interfacing like Olga suggests in the Lana pattern. This is genius because it eliminates the waviness I’d seen in the past when doing this in a knit. I was able to use woven interfacing on this knit pattern because it had some ease to it but I recently used this trick with a fitted knit bodice and added a strip of the knit interfacing instead and it worked like a dream!

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Looking for more Lana inspiration? There are some amazing short sleeve, long sleeve, dress, and top versions (and tons of fun hacks!) from other seamstresses on the pattern tour. Be sure to stop by the Coffee + Thread Patterns Facebook group and find more Lanas on Instagram with these hashtags:  #lanatopanddress #lanatopanddresstour #coffeeandthreadpatterns#lanakids

To celebrate the pattern tour, there is a 20% discount code on the ladies patterns and girls patterns (bundles excluded). YAY!

Happy Sewing!

***As a Coffee + Thread Tester, I received this pattern in exchange for sewing it up
and offering feedback throughout the testing process. This blog post contains
zero affiliate links and it is my joy to share a pattern and designer I adore.***