THE BLUE RIDGE DRESS PATTERN SWAP

When I saw the new Blue Ridge Dress from Hello Holli I immediately knew that I would make one.  I love the modern lines and yet still feminine cut of this dress. My daughter is still in a dress and skirts only phase which means that I am always on the hunt for great little girl dress patterns.

Holli contacted my awhile back with this amazing idea that she had – pattern swaps.  The idea being that we each sew up one another’s patterns. I loved the idea and was completely on board. On Holli’s blog, Hello Holli, you will find her version of the Mini Southport dress.  Be sure to go and check it out to see what she came up with. She has great style so I am sure that it will be amazing.

The Blue Ridge Dress has so many things that I love.  Besides the modern lines, the finishing is really great. Not only does it look amazing on the outside, but it is beautifully finished on the inside with no exposed seams. Quite the work of art I must say. I love the twirly skirt and large 2 inch hem. I also think that the bias binding outlining all of the parts allows for a lot fun and unexpected fabric combinations.

The fabric that I used is this gorgeous woven textile from Fabric.com. I am kicking myself for not buying more although admittedly it was a beast to work with. Lots and lots of fraying. The bias tape is store bought.  Holli recommends making your own for better results and after making up her dress I have to agree with her.  The store bought worked fine, but I think that homemade would be softer and would turn the curves better. The bottom of the dress is just some Kona cotton. I love the way it looks – kinda like chambray – but if I were to do it again I would use something more lightweight.  It ended up a bit thick for summer.  I think either linen or two layers of voile would have been more appropriate.

Both my daughter and I give this dress two thumbs up. Holli has done as amazing job and I can’t wait to see what she comes up with next.

WOVEN HUDSON / SOUTHPORT TO JUMPSUIT HACK

I have been wanting to do this ever since I released the Southport Dress and am so glad that I finally carved out the time to make this happen.  I wore it to a picnic this week for my husband’s work and I felt so comfortable and confident.  I want to make another one in black already.

It was a bit of trial and error type of process making this so I don’t have a full tutorial for you yet.  My goal is to make another one soon and photograph the steps now that I know what I am doing, but I will tell you in the this post what I did in case you feel ready to go ahead and make one up yourself.

I made the top portion of the jumpsuit according to the top portion of the Southport Dress with a few changes. You want to add a few inches to the bottom, much like I did in this tutorial where I turned it into a tank top.  You will also need to adjust the width of the bottom so that it’s the same width as the waistband of your Hudson pants.  Sew the top portion up according to the directions, except wait to put on the buttons and buttonholes until after you make the rest of your jumpsuit.  This is because you may shorten the top more and you want the buttons to be in the correct positions.

When making the bottom portion of your jumpsuit, cut it out according to my instructions for Woven Hudson Pants which you can find here but with a few changes. You are going to want to raise the crotch length at the top of your pants on both the front and the back so that the waist hits nearer to the natural waistline instead of the hips. After trying on some of my Hudson Pants I decided that adding an inch the front and back rise was good for me. The other change that you are going to make is to add 3/4″ to the height of the waistband. Once folded in half this will be 3/8″ on the top of the waistband that will serve as the seam allowance to sew the blouse to the bottoms. Sew the pants up according to the instructions except when doing the waistband, sew a row of stitching 3/8″ from the top folded edge before attaching the waistband to the pants and inserting the elastic.

Once you have your bottoms and top completed separately, try them on together, tucking the top into the bottoms and pinning in place. When you have it fitting like you want, mark where you have the top pinned plus 3/8″ for seam allowance.  Cut off any excess and sew the top and bottom together. Now sew on your buttons and buttonholes.

Like I said, I hope to do a more thorough tutorial soon, but if you have any questions please ask and I will try to clarify as much as I can.

The fabric used in this version is some rayon challis from JoAnns which was great to work with. I made a couple mistakes when cutting out so I wasn’t able to pattern match as much as I hoped, but in the end I’m pretty pleased with how they turned out.

CHAMBRAY SHIFT USING NEW LOOK 6145

I’ve been wanting a simple chambray shift for awhile now. I love the ease of wearing a denim dress.  Feels dressed up and down at the same time. I bought some denim from JoAnns ages ago for this project just waiting for the weather to warm up so I could sew it.

After a lot of searching I finally landed on New Look 6145 for the base of my dress. I knew that I wanted a simple shift with sleeves and french darts and this was the closest that I could find.  I like that it was kinda a blank slate since I would be changing it quite a bit.

I did make quite a few changes to the pattern to suite my taste. I made the neckline less boatneck shaped and more of a crew neck. I also lengthened the sleeved to a longer short sleeve length instead of the cap sleeve that was included. The pattern does call for a center back seem and zipper even though you can get in and out with out it.  But I did add the zipper because I wanted the look of the exposed metal zipper. The pattern also has back darts for shaping, but I did not sew those as I wanted more of a cocoon shape. The other thing that I changed was I did a large 4 inch hem just because I prefer the look of that to the smaller hem width.

I am pretty pleased with how it turned out. The only thing is that I wish I had pegged the bottom a bit instead of having the hem slightly A line as it is. This is not because it would fit better, just because I prefer the shape that way.

All in all a great dress. I look forward to being able to wear it out or dress it down for the park.  Love everyday appropriate dresses like this one.

ARMHOLE BINDING TUTORIAL FOR THE MINI SOUTHPORT DRESS

Like I mentioned before, I will not be doing a full sewalong for the Mini Southport Dress. Most of the steps are the same or similar to those in the adult sized Southport Dress so check those out if you want a little more help.

I did, however, want to do this one tutorial for the armhole binding technique that I used. When creating the pattern for the Mini Southport Dress it became clear to me that it was extremely difficult to attach the bias binding to the armholes in the round because the armhole curves were so tight on the smallest sizes. When looking for an alternate technique I found this one used on some of my daughter’s ready to wear dresses. It makes it much easier to get a nice finish on your armholes. Because the bodice on this dress has quite a lot of ease it is the perfect solution. I would not, however, recommend using this technique on a more fitted garment as it does add a bit of extra bulk to the underarm seam that may be uncomfortable if close to the body.

The following steps coordinate with those in the instructions of the Mini Southport Dress:

Step 9 – Before continuing, finish the seam allowance of the front and back side seams separately. I used my serger to do this, but you could also using pinking shears or zigzag stitch the allowances.

Get your bias tape again, and open one of the folded sides just like you did for the neckline. Starting at the underarm seam, with about 1” of bias tape hanging off the front side seam edge, pin the long, open edge of your bias tape around the armhole so that it is flush with the edge , right sides touching.  Stitch at 1/4” seam allowance.

Here is how it looks once it’s done. Notice how there is a tail about 1″ long left over on the front armhole edge only.

Step 10 – Just like you did on the neckline, press the bias tape up and away from the bodice and over the seam allowance. Do this on a curved surface such as a tailors ham or rolled up towel to help support the curve of the armhole.

Understitch but stitching through the seam allowance and bias tape about 1/6″ -1/8″ inside of the bias tape.

Turn the bias tape to the inside of the bodice while rolling the seam slightly to the inside. Press on a curved surface. Steam is your friend here to help the bias tape make the curves without causing any puckering. Pin.

Edgestitch along the open side of the bias facing securing it to the armhole. Leave the 1” tail free on the bodice front.

Step 11 – With right sides together, pin the side seams. Stitch at 1/2″ seam allowance.

Step 12 – Take the 1” tail of the bias tape left over on the front bodice seam allowance and fold it over the back seam allowance so that the end touches the stitch line on the back bodice. You may need to trim it to fit snugly.

Press this, along with the side seam allowances, towards the back and pin at the top.

Step 13 – On the right side of  your bodice, stitch for about 3/4” down through all layers to secure the seam allowances and bias tape to the back bodice. Here is what the right side of the armhole should look like.

And here is what the inside should look like.

All done with the armholes.  Give them a nice press and proceed to the next part of the instructions!

I hope you guys liked the tutorial and that it helped with any of you who wanted a visual for these steps. If you would like to purchase the Mini Southport Dress pdf sewing pattern you can do it here.  Also, the fabric that I used for this dress is some cotton lawn from Robert Kaufman which you can find here.

INTRODUCING THE MINI SOUTHPORT DRESS SEWING PATTERN

I am so excited to introduce my second children’s sized pattern today – the Mini Southport Dress. Just like the Mini Hudson Pant, the Mini Southport is patterned after the women’s sized Southport Dress, but has been simplified and adjusted to be age appropriate for children and ranges in sizes from 2T – 10.

The Mini Southport is designed with a button opening at the center front of the bodice and the armholes and neckline are finished with single fold bias tape. For extra comfort and ease the waist is cinched in with a combination elastic and faux drawstring.

To keep this dress child appropriate, it was designed to work best with fabrics that are sturdier, easier to sew, and easier to wash / take care of.  The recommended fabrics are quilting cotton, cotton voile, linen, and double gauze. My samples are sewn up in Nani Iro double gauze and Robert Kaufman artisan batik quilting cotton.

Because of the simplifications made and the easier fabric suggestions, I think that an advanced beginner could definitely tackle it. The more difficult sewing techniques that you will use with this pattern include bias binding and buttons / buttonholes.

I will not be doing a sewalong with this pattern because so much of it has already been covered in the adult sized Southport Dress Sewalong. I will, however, be covering a couple of the new steps in a post in a few days to help out.

You can get $2 off the pattern price until Friday July 3rd at midnight EST with the code LAUNCHWEEK. To purchase the pattern or learn more about it, head on over to my shop here or click on the Mini Southport Image in the sidebar.

ONLINE FABRIC SHOPPING

There is definitely something wonderful about shopping for fabric in person. I can spend hours touching, comparing, and dreaming up all of the fabric possibilities. But, the reality of my current situation of having two young kids, no car, and living in NYC city makes that a rare occasion. I do make it down to the garment district once every few months when a friend is visiting though. That’s always fun and you can see my favorite garment store picks here.

By far, most of my fabric and notion shopping is done online though. I have a bit of a system now of what I get where, and since “Where do you buy fabric?” is one of my most frequently asked questions, I thought I would make a little list for you all today of where I shop online.

I am only going to list places that I have personally ordered from, but please know that there are ton of other great shops out there too.

 

Etsy shops:

Felinus Fabrics – I recently ordered a bunch of fabric from them. I havn’t finished the projects so I don’t have anything to show you, but I was so impressed with their customer service. I needed a private listing and they emailed me back within minutes. The package was sent the next day and the shipping was less than expected so they refunded me the difference! All that aside they have some great fabrics for apparel sewing. I also grabbed some buttons and lace yokes. Lots of great stuff here.

Stevie Saint Fabrics – They carry a lot of rayons and crepes, especially with a bohemian vibe. I used some of their fabric for my southport dress sewalong and loved the fabric. They have tons of great prints and seem to update often. Also, great customer service and fast shipping.

PeggySueAlso Leather – This is my go to leather store. I love that they have so many bright colors and that they offer the option of small scraps for smaller projects. I have found that their 12 x 12 inch Divine Cowhide is the perfect amount and weight of leather for a pair of moccassins for a baby shower gift.

Independantly Owned Shops:

Blackbird Fabrics – Caroline is not only a great person, but she has amazing taste. I love that she took the leap and opened up her shop. She went to school for, and then worked, in the fashion and textile industry so she really knows how to choose her products. I used here fabric for both this kim dress, and this white and black linden sweatshirt.

Imagine Ghats – I was recently on the hunt for some Nani Iro fabric that was in short supply in her shop.  After contacting her she was able to look through some extra stock and find me just enough for my project.  I feel like that is the best thing about independent shops – a person to talk to. She also has started carrying some other great apparel fabrics such as rayon challis and swimwear fabric.

Girl Charlee – They are especially known for their knits but they also carry a lot of woven fabrics too. Their prices are really cheap so this is a good place to start for those who are wanting to try out knits for the first time or play around with some flowy wovens such as crepe or challis.

Hawthorne Threads – If I am looking for some quilting cotton or similar fabric for something for my kids they almost always have the new stuff and tons of options.  They also carry a wide range of Robert Kaufman which is a go to for me.  I just bought some of their rayon chambray through them which I am pretty excited about.

Wanderlust Fabrics – Another small, curated shop with good taste. Whether it be knits, wovens, or pom pom trim, the shop seems to reflect the style that the owner is feeling at the time. Couple that with fast shipping and friendly help, it makes for a great little shop that I check out often. I used her fabric for my hudson pant sewalong, and my mandy boat tees.

Michael Levine – I recently tried this shop for the first time when I was on the search for the perfect ikat for my Alice dress and found it here.  After browsing around a bit more I saw that they have tons of other great apparel options too.

Larger Retail Stores:

Fabric.com – I shop here a lot. It’s easy, usually very affordable, and they accept returns! Which is huge since sometimes things appear different online than in person. If you are new to sewing, this is a great place to start.

Jo-Ann Fabric – Let’s face it, they’ve got great sales. I just had a 50 yd bolt of muslin delivered to my door from here using one of their 60% off coupons. A couple of times a year during their big sales I stock up on stuff like muslin and fusible interfacing. And of coarse if I am ever out of the city I try to drop in and see if they are having one of their pattern sales.

Wawak – This is the best / cheapest way that I have found to buy notions. Especially when I am working on a new pattern so I know that I will need a ton of one thing like buttons, elastic, or bias tape, I buy it here in bulk at a fraction of the cost. I have also bought all of my patternmaking rulers and supplies for school here for much cheaper than the schools bookstore. I like to stock up on their large spools of Gutterman thread too as I seem to always be running out of black and white.

 

OK, that’s it.  As I mentioned before, there are tons of other great fabric sources out there. Feel free to add your favorites below in the comments. Hope this helps those of you who are looking for more online options.

ALICE TOP IN EYELET

After making the Alice dress a month or so ago, I knew that I wanted to try the pattern (by Tessuit Fabrics) again, this time with some eyelet. It’s one of my favorite trends this summer. I love this eyelet because it is more geometric and less flowery like most that I find. I got it from my favorite linen store, Gray line Linens, in the NYC garment district. I wanted to keep the bottom half lightweight and flowy so I went with some black rayon challis from fabric.com.

After some debate I decided to make this one a top instead of a dress length because I figured that the eyelet might make the garment feel a little more dressed up, and the dress length even more so. I went with the top so it might feel a bit more everyday wearable.

I had to make a few changes to accomodate the eyelet. The yoke is supposed to be double to create a facing which I obviously couldn’t do without ruining the affect. So I made the yoke one layer and used black 1/2″ single fold bias tape to finish the neckline. There are probably better ways to do this, but it worked well for me. I think that if top was not black then this finish might end up looking a bit messy and you might be better off using a double fold bias tape and enclosing the neckline within it.

I also had to shorten the yoke on both the front and back so that it didn’t show too much cleavage. It normally hits about an inch lower than you are seeing in my pictures which with wearing a nude bra looked pretty crazy. I also had to adjust the armholes accordingly.

One last adjustment that I made was raising the depth of the armhole by almost an inch. On my last version you could see my bra when I raised my arms. An inch up was perfect for me.

Love my new blouse!

Outfit Details:

Blouse : Made by me (pattern is Alice Top by Tessuti)

Pants : Old Navy

Shoes : Lotta Clog

 

 

DIY WARDROBE MAKEOVERS BOOK + INTERVIEW + GIVEAWAY

I have been reading Suzannah Hamlin Stanley’s blog (currently called Create / Enjoy, but I remember it as Adventures in Dressmaking) for a really long time. In fact she may be one of the first sewing related blogs that I started reading and am still reading to this day. She has an amazing abilty to repurpose just about anything and make it stunning. And now she totally upped her game and wrote a book. The title of her brand new book is DIY Wardrobe Makeovers : Alter, Refresh & Refashion Your Clothes Step-by-Step Sewing Tutorials and as the name implies, it is all about taking things from your closet or the thrift store and changing them in a way to bring new life to them. I have seen the book and it is really well done, helpful, and of coarse beauitifully photographed just like her blog is. I am super excited for Suzannah and all that she has achieved and so happy to be sharing it with you guys today.

I always love getting a chance to pick other bloggers brains and so I jumped on the opportunity to do an interview Suzannah in conjunction with her book release. I hope you enjoy getting to know Suzannah a bit better.

Me – Please tell us a little about how you started sewing and blogging.

Suzannah – Two very different journeys! My mom taught me to sew when I was a kid, and I made my first garments for myself at 10 or 12, but I really started it as a habit on one of my summers home from college. I made myself a couple cute sundresses and was hooked!
I started blogging in fall 2009, shortly after I finished grad school and moved in with my then-boyfriend to our first real apartment. I was underemployed and looking for jobs in my field but had time on my hands and started reading blogs, making and remaking things for the apartment from the craft store and thrift stores, and sewing in my first very own sewing room!

Me – Can you tell us a little about how your book became a reality – was it your idea and you pitched it, or were you approached with the opportunity?

Suzannah – Writing a book has been a goal of mine since not long after I started blogging. I keep a working list of book ideas, but this one was the most fleshed-out. I had contacted some publishers on my own with no luck, but I was able to get an agent (referred from another craft blogger I know), and she helped me write my proposal. She sent it off to quite a few publishers for me.

Me – Who do you think that your target audience is for your book?

Suzannah – I think it’s a very wide audience! Similar to my blog readership, mostly women, ranging in age from teenagers to retired folks sewing for their grandkids. I’ve helped and advised several of my friends (and even my professional seamstress mom!) on repairing or remaking their clothes, and of course I’ve done it for countless garments in my mending/makeover pile, so I know some store-bought garment issues are universal. The book is divided into fit fixes (such as hemming, taking in various types of garments, etc.) and DIY style projects. Even the style projects are pretty classic for the most part, though–I can see a lot of women wanting to trim, remake, or restyle their versions of the garments!

Me – I know from reading your blog that you have gone through a lot of health / diet changes over the last couple of years. I know that writing a book is super demanding. How has your health played a role in the process and being able to balance it all?

Suzannah – Thanks for reading for so long! It’s a good question–I started the book proposal and writing process when I was raw vegan, not working out much, and working a day job that bored me. I was pretty stressed out most of the time when I was getting the proposal done and starting the projects, and my hormones, energy, and sleep were not great. I remember a lot of frustration on evenings and weekends for a solid few months there. Now I eat cooked food, locally sourced meat, and lots of healthy fats, and my brain and body function so much better. I’m calmer in general, which really helped with final book edits, packing for and doing an intensive 2-day photo shoot around Portland, and doing book promotion. Working a day job I love and fitting in regular strength training workouts 3 days/week, plus regular hikes with my husband, has also made me a happier person. I’m so happy with how the book turned out and excited to continue promoting it!

Me – I am always curious about those who make all or part of their living doing creative pursuits and blogging.  Can you tell us a bit about how you you have made it work?

Suzannah – I’ve been blogging for almost 6 years now, so I’ve got a good routine down and am usually able to balance my projects, computer time, and local blogger events with my full-time day job in another field. I’ve scaled back my blog and related paid projects from what I used to have time for. I find I enjoy it more when it’s a hobby than my all-day, everyday pursuit with the pressure of making an income–although I admire people who can do both!

Me – When you have no demands on your creative time, what is your favorite thing to sew and create?

Suzannah – It’s funny, I started this whole hobby because I liked sewing dresses. (The blog was originally called Adventures in Dressmaking.) I’ve broadened my skills and interests to home decor, DIY body products, cooking high quality food, and other things that make me feel creatively refreshed… but really, I still love sewing dresses! I have one waiting to be cut out a few feet from me as I write this, actually! I don’t have a ton of places to wear them anymore since my style has simplified a lot, but occasionally I do and then I feel so much better wearing something I made than something store-bought! 

 

Giveaway

A big thank you to Suzannah for indulging my questions and a huge congrats to her on releasing her first book. Suzannah has offered to give away one copy of her new book, DIY Wardrobe Makeovers, to one of you.  To enter just leave a comment below (US residents only, sorry).

EASY SKIRT TUTORIAL

This is the method that I use when I want to sew up a really easy and fast skirt for my daughter.  I havn’t tried it for myself yet, but I think that the same basic tutorial would work for a women’s skirt too. This one is for a size 5T although you can adjust the sizing according to your needs. I have a few things that I really like in a gathered skirt – lots of gathering, elastic waist (no buttons or zippers), pockets, and a large hem. This skirt has them all and is really simple to sew up.

Step 1

Measurements (adjust the measurements in parenthesis for your sizing needs):

width of the skirt (25″) + 1/2″ seam allowance on each side = 26″

height of the skirt (13″) + 2 1/4″ hem + 1 1/2″ waistband = 16 3/4″

Cut out two pieces of fabric that are 26″ wide and 16 3/4″ tall. If you want to add pockets then cut two pieces of fabric that are 6 1/2″ wide and 7 1/2″ tall.

You will also want some 1″ elastic for the waistband. It should be long enough to wrap around the waist comfortably, but snug, with 1/2″ overlap.

Step 2

With your two skirt pieces on top of one another and right sides together, sew the two sides together at 1/2″ seam allowance.  I sewed mine using french seams, but you can use any finishing technique that you choose.

Step 3

Fold the top of the skirt and the bottom of the skirt at 1/4″ towards the wrong side of the skirt. Press.

Step 4

Fold the top of the skirt down by another 1 1/4″ and press. Fold the bottom of the skirt up by another 2″ and press. Pin in place.

Step 5

Sew the hem at a scant 2″ from the bottom and then again at 1/8″ from the bottom edge. I love wide hems like this because it stays crisp (less ironing after washing) and the weight of the large hem gives more substance to a gathered skirt that in my opinion makes it look more expensive.

Step 6

At the top of the skirt, sew along the folded edge, at about 1 1/8″ from the top. Leave about an 3″ opening to insert the elastic.

Step 7

If you havn’t done it alreay, cut your elastic to the desired length adding about 1/2″ for overlap. Using a safety pin, thread the elastic through the waistband casing. Overlap the two ends by about 1/2″ and sew together.

Step 8

Stitch the opening in the waistband casing shut. While stretching the elastic so that the waistband has little to no gathering, stitch through all layers of the waistband and elastic along the middle of the waistband. I know this sounds confusing, but it will keep your elastic from turning and keeps the gathering flat.

Step 9

If you want to add pockets, Fold the tops down by 1/4″ and then another 3/4″.  Press and stitch it at a scant 3/4″. Fold the other three edges towards the back by 1/4″ and press.

Step 10

Pin each pocket on top of the side seams of the skirt just above the hem and slightly towards the front of the skirt.

Step 11

Stitch around the sides and bottom of the pockets to secure at 1/8″.

Step 12

Give it a final press and you are done.

A BLOUSE AND A KITTY

I have been working on a few projects for my 5 year old daughter lately and wanted to share them with you. First off, I was recently sent this book, Girly Style Wardrobe by Yoshiko Tsukiori and was instantly drawn to this simple easy blouse for her. I love the ease and effortless style that these Japanese sewing books have (I also have my eye on this one) and this blouse was no different.

I made the top according to the instructions except that I added a bit of length to the ruffle just for personal preference. My daughter and I both love the way that it turned out. I sewed it up in some simple red gingham because I thought it fit the classic, feminine style, plus the fabric is really cheap and I wanted this to be a bit of a trial run before using nicer fabrics.  No need though because the fit is super forgiving and fits great. I think I want to make a white one up next, maybe in some eyelet.

I paired the blouse with a simple chambray skirt that I actually have a tutorial for which will be posted later this week.  It’s the easiest skirt to make with leftover fabric and my daughter loves that it has some serious twirl factor. Which makes up both happy.  It’s my go to little girl skirt.

I was also recently sent a kit to make up this kitten stuffie from Take&Make. It’s not the sort of thing that I normally make or blog about (not sure that I have ever successfully made a toy before) but I have been longing for projects that I can do with my daughter as she has started to ask to participate, and I thought this might be the perfect first run. Honestly, I was completely ignorant about making stuffies and it is so much more involved than I ever thought.  I have new found respect for all of your ladies making toys and stuffed animals. My embroidery skills are laughable and who knew that there is a science to using stuffing?! My kitty kinda looks like it has cellulite. Haha! Lesson learned.

All that begin said, my daughter LOVES her new toy and the process was really fun. I am new to the company Take&Make, but I was so impressed by the quality of the product. The kit came so beautifully packaged and the quality of the items chosen for the package made it feel more like a present than anything else.

I kept thinking that this was the exact kind of thing that I would have loved to get as a gift when I was younger. I am a project oriented person so getting like this would have been right up my alley.  In fact, I am going to keep my eye all of their new kits as it gets closer to the holidays as I think that this would be the coolest gift to give to a crafty inclined person. I especially have my eye on this book binding one.  I can think of so many women who would love this.

Check back on Thursday if you are interested in the tutorial for the skirt.