SOUTHPORT DRESS READY-TO-WEAR INSPIRATION

I am so excited by the positive response to the Southport Dress last week.  Thank you guys. I can’t wait to get started with the sewalong next week, but first I wanted to focus on some ready-to-wear inspiration.  I have made many, many versions of this dress over the last few months and I love that depending on what fabric I chose, the feel of the dress changed completely.

I love the ease of View A and the fact that it really is every day appropriate.  I think it’s easier to get away with bolder prints on the short version because it feels a little less crazy in it’s length. I am still on the lookout for the perfect jungle print like number 3 and a chambray that is lightweight enough to not be too bulky around the waist like number 5.

VIEW A

1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 | 6

View B definitely has a bit more drama with it’s long maxi length and front slit. I love the idea of finding the perfect eyelet or lace like number 2 for a beach coverup and have plans to do a little shibori dying like number 6. Although of all of the versions that I have made, I have to admit that the black rayon challis Southport that I made like number 4 is my most worn one.  I love it paired with my jean jacket and sandals.

VIEW B

1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 | 6

I hope that these ready to wear versions gave you some inspiration for future Southport Dresses.  I would love to hear what you have planned.

NEW PATTERN – THE SOUTHPORT DRESS

It’s ready, it’s finally ready. I am so in love with the Southport dress and am excited show you all what I have been working on for the last bit behind the scenes. The Southport dress came from my desire to create a pattern that is as easy to wear as a coverup at the beach or pool as is it is to wear around town.

The Southport comes in two versions.  View A is short and hits 20″ from the waistline and View B is maxi length falling 42″ from the waist. Both versions have a simple button up feature at center front and a drawstring waist. It’s a tank style dress using single fold bias tape to finish the armholes and the neckline. View B also adds a bit of drama with a center front slit.

After some deliberation I decided to label the Southport as intermediate because of the more difficult techniques of adding bias facing and buttons/buttonholes.  That being said, a confident beginner could definitely tackle this dress especially if they chose easier fabrics and followed the sewalong coming to the blog in a couple of weeks.

Although we will talk more about this next week, suggested fabrics are lightweight woven fabrics such as cotton voile, crepe de chine, rayon challis, and lightweight linens.  Pretty much you want something with some drape and movement so that the drawstring waist doesn’t get bulky. The fabric that I used in View A is a really soft linen blend and View B is sewn up in a rayon challis.

There will be a sewalong for the Southport the week of April 27th and there will be some inspiration posts coming next week. Here is the schedule if you would like to follow along:

Sewalong Schedule

Monday April 27th – Prepping with Markings, Staystitching, Interfacing, and Seam Finishes

Tuesday April 28th – Darts, and Neckline

Wednesday April 29th – Armholes and Buttons

Thursday April 30th – Pockets and Waistband

Friday May 1st – Slit and Hemming

 

I will also be posting so suggestions on fabric and ready to wear inspiration next week to gear up for the sewalong.

The Southport Dress will be on sale for 25% off until the sewalong begins (so until midnight EST Sunday April 26th) with the code SOUTHPORTLAUNCH. You can purchase the Southport Dress pdf sewing pattern by clicking here or by clicking on the image on the right sidebar.

Please let me know if you have any questions.

LINEN AND LEATHER POUCH TUTORIAL

I love things that I can make with leftover fabric from my stash. I was recently looking for a gift idea for a good friend of mine and came up with this tutorial for a little pouch / clutch with leather accents. I am now a little obsessed and have made five to date.  One of the ones above is for me and the other two are getting ready to be shipped off for mother’s day gifts. I think it’s the perfect friend / mother gift.  Easy to make, made with stuff I already have, and the finished product is pretty expensive looking if I do say so myself. And who doesn’t need more little bags for makeup, pencils, jewelry etc…

If you want to make some up like mine here are few tips for supplies.  I think the best combos for these are natural fabrics. All of the outer fabrics above are linen. I think that the texture of a natural fabric like that paired with leather is always an impressive combo. If you do not have leather scraps around like I do (I am always on the hunt) I would first check your local thrift store. I have found some really great old purses or jackets that I have cut up for projects like this and for a few bucks a pop it goes a long way. I also often buy leather from this etsy shop. They have tons of colors and you can buy a small square for around $6 -$10 which would make a bunch of these little bags.  I also used metal zippers on all of my bags too. Certainly not necessary, but I think for an extra dollar spent on a zipper the impact is much more impressive .

OK, let’s get started. The tutorial below is to make a pouch that is about 10″ wide and 7″ long, but you could easily adjust the size for your preference. Just know that your zipper should be about 1 inch shorter than your desired width.

Materials:

– 9 inch zipper (preferably metal)

– leather / jeans sewing machine needle

– coordinating thread

– leather scraps

– main fabric 11″ x 8″ (cut 2)

– lining fabric 11″ x 8″ (cut 2)

– fusible interfacing 11″ x 8″ (cut 2)

– main 1 1/4″ x 2 1/2″ (cut 2)

 

Step 1

Apply fusible interfacing to the wrong side of both main 11″ x 8″ pieces.

 

Step 2

Line up the lining pieces on top of the main pieces and cut the bottom two corners so that they are curved. (I just eyeball it.)

 

Step 3

Take your leather scraps and cut two (they are only on the front of the pouch not the back) so that the corners match the main pieces and other edge is at an approximate 45 degree angle from the bottom. Once again I just eyeball this so each one is a little different. Fold under the the angled edge by about 1/4″ and either use a bone folder to press the fold or an iron without steam. You could also just leave this edge raw and not fold it under, but my leather was soft enough that I could fold it. I have found that I like to put a hot iron on the fold and hold it there for a few seconds to really get a good crease. I also usually use a glue stick to attach the leather to the main piece and let it dry. This really helps it to stay in place when stitching in the next step. You could also use clamps, but do not use pins as they will puncture your leather.

 

Step 4

Put your leather / jeans needle in your machine. I leave it in for the entire process of making this bag as I find that the multiple layers needs a really strong needle to sew it well. Now stitch about 1/8″ inside of the folded, angled, leather edge. I use a slightly longer stitch length and matching brown thread (although you could also use the same thread you are using for the rest of the bag for contrast).

 

Step 5

Prepare your zipper tabs by folding each of the short ends in by 1/4″ and pressing.  Then fold in half so that the 1/4″ folded edges are now touching one another. Press.

Put each zipper end inside of the folded tab. Pin.

Put on your zipper foot and stitch about 1/8″ inside of the folded edge next to the zipper stop. Trim off any excess on the sides of the zipper tape.

 

Step 6

Lay one main piece face up and then lay the zipper on top face down. Put one lining on top face down. Pin the top edge. Using your zipper foot, stitch along the top edge near the zipper teeth from one end to the other.

 

Step 7

Press the seam allowance and main fabric to the right and the lining to the left. Edgestitch along the fold of the main main fabric next to the zipper tape from one end to the other. Press the lining back under the main fabric to the right.

 

Step 8

Repeat process for other side of zipper tape with remaining main and lining pieces.

 

Step 9

Open up your zipper. Pin the main pieces together, right sides touching – do not pin where the leather is so that you don’t leave holes in your leather. Pin the two lining pieces together, right sides touching. Leaving a 5″ opening in the bottom of the lining, stitch all edges at 1/4″ seam allowance.

This is especially tricky and thick  where the zipper tab is.  Let the bulk of the tab fold towards the lining. Just go slowly and go back and forth a few times over this spot for reinforcement. Trim the seam allowance, especially at the zipper tab and around the leather pieces.

 

Step 10

Turn your pouch right side out through the opening in your lining and the open zipper. Work the corners at the zipper until you get a decent angle ( I sometimes use a chopstick to help with this).

 

Step 11

Pull the lining back out of the zipper and give it a good press, pressing in the 1/4″ seam allowance at the opening. Either machine or handstitch the opening closed.

 

Step 12

Put the lining back inside and give the entire pouch a good press. All done!

 

CHARLIE DRESS IN STRIPES

I think that I have mentioned before that my daughter is in an only dresses stage. It drives me a bit bonkers, but I am trying to be cool about it. She will still wear some of her pants, like her Hudson Mini pants as long as she can wear a tutu over them. It’s quite a spectacle, but she is 5 so I guess we can roll with it.

I am trying to be smart and only make things for her that I know she will actually wear, which means that there are a lot of little girl dresses and skirts in my future. I decided to start with the Charlie dress by Mingo and Grace because I liked it’s simple lines and modern cut. I also read that it is called the Charlie dress because it’s patterned after the dresses that the little girls would wear on Charlie Brown. The nostalgia in me just made me like this pattern even more.

Let’s talk fabric first. I am obsessed with this fabric. It’s a really soft linen and cotton blend that I bought from fabric.com. It has almost a spongey quality that reminds me a bit of double gauze. I used the blue on this dress, but also bought some of the tan which you will be seeing soon on one of my new patterns as a sample. I am thinking about buying a couple more yards too so I can sew my son up some overalls in them for the summer.

As you can see I played with the stripes a bit to add some interest and I am happy with the way it turned out. I think that this pattern is simple enough that you could get really creative and make up several versions that look completely different from one another. I have plans for a couple more for sure.

The pattern was really easy, although admittedly I didn’t follow the directions at all. I have my own methods that I like for bias facing so I just did it without referring to the instructions.

As for sizing, I knew from reading some other reviews that the bodice tends to fit wide so I went with a size 4 for her even though she almost always wears a size 5. The 4 fits well in the chest and shoulders, although maybe still on the big side a bit. I meant to add length to compensate, but ran out of fabric. I think that the length is great now, but she is growing like a weed so who knows how long it will fit. I will definitely add length to the next version that I sew.

Outfit Details:

Dress : Handmade (Pattern – Charlie Dress, Fabric – Pisa Striped Linen from Fabric.com)
Shoes : Saltwater Sandals

 

 

CAROLYN PAJAMAS WITH LIONS

I rarely sew with quilting cottons because I don’t quilt. I have been a little obsessed with some of Cotton & Steels fabric line so I was looking for an opportunity to sew with them. When the Carolyn pajamas pattern was released by the talented Heather of Closet Case Files I knew this was the perfect opportunity.  I ordered my two favorites – the August Lion in coral and the Octopus lawn in teal from fabric.com to make a couple of sets.  I sewed up the lions first and made view C for the first try.

The pattern is marked intermediate and I would say that is pretty accurate, especially if you choose to use piping. The instructions were very clear so it wasn’t hard to put together, but it does take some attention to detail and patience to get the collar right and all of the piping inserted in the right places.  I have not sewn a lot with piping before so I definitely learned a few things.

The fit was perfect straight off. I was really happy about that. Somehow, even though the fit is somewhat boxy, it ends up pretty flattering. This was meant to be a bit of a trial run for when I use the octopus fabric and sew up View B (long sleeves and pants version), but I don’t think that I will need to make any changes to the fit at all.

I didn’t have enough fabric to pattern match all of the seams that I wanted, but I at least got center front and the pocket right for the top, which I think was most important. I do recommend choosing a fabric that does not require a ton of matching.  Especially with all of the cuffs it began to become quite the headache.  You will notice that I didn’t succeed with the matching in a lot of areas, but I am not going to let that bother me.  I love my new pjs and have already slept in them twice.  Now I just need to decide if I should sew up the octopus version right away since the instructions are fresh in my mind, or wait until the weather is getting cold again.

TODDLER SWIMSUITS AND FUNKIFABRICS GIVEAWAY

I have been really drawn to a new trend that I have seen in kids wear (and some adult wear too) lately.  I have seen a lot of highly digital photographic prints being used on clothing and especially swimsuits.  See here, here, and here for some examples.  I think it’s a really fun trend.  Probably something that I am too old to full off myself and so naturally I turn to my child to pull it off for me :)  So when I was contacted by Funkifabrics to try out some of their spandex I decided to embrace the wild and fun which they do so well and make my 5 year old up some swimwear for the summer. We live in swimwear in the warmer months so I knew this would be well worth my effort.

They were kind enough to let me pick 3 prints because I would need such small amounts of yardage for my daughter, which I was super excited about.  I narrowed it down to my top ten and then let me daughter pick three from those.  In the end we ended up with jelly beans, poppy meadow, and galaxy.

When the fabric arrived I was even more excited.  The colors were vibrant and the patterns bold.  The thickness of the spandex was perfect for a swimsuit too.

For the sewing pattern I used a vintage (circa 1985) Stretch & Sew 1270. I liked the simplicity and retro feel of the simple one piece so I went for it.

stretch and sew 1270

Sewing the pattern up went pretty smoothly.  I did do a quick muslin and ended up lengthening the final one and adding a bit more coverage to the bum cheeks. I also opted to fully line the front. If you have never sewn a swimsuit before it really is pretty simple, I barely even used my serger.  You could definitely do it on your regular sewing machine with a stretch stitch. You just need a few simple tools including a stretch sewing needle, twin stretch sewing needle, swimsuit lining (or you could just double up your regular fabric) and swimwear elastic. After making the first muslin the other three all sewed up in about a half an hour each.

Funkifabrics has generously offered to give one of my readers 2 yards of their choice of fabric and free shipping.  And it’s open to anyone wordwide. All you have to do is pop on over to their site and choose what fabric you might end up with if you win and leave a comment with your answer below.  Can I give a couple of suggestions?  Check out this one, this one and this one. The giveaway will end on Saturday night midnight EST after which I will announce the winner via instagram. Good luck!

*disclosure – The fabric for this project was generously provided to me for free from Funkifabrics, but all opinions and reviews are honest and my own.

COCO BLAZER AND A $50 HARTS FABRIC GIVEAWAY

I am a big fan of blazers and have been on the lookout for the perfect little spring jacket pattern for awhile now.  You know, not a serious blazer with lapels and pockets etc… and all of the intimidation that comes with a pattern like that.  I wanted something easy to throw on over a dress or tshirt and not feel all business, just a bit more put together.  So I was pretty excited when I spotted Jolies’s wonderland cat version of the Coco blazer earlier this year.  It immediately when on my “patterns to try” pinterest board to try out.

First let’s talk about the Coco pattern.  It’s from a new to me pattern company out of Germany called Schnittchen.  I think they have quite a few interesting patterns including quite a few unique jackets and blazers.  As you might imagine the instructions are in German.  Luckily for me she recently had the Coco as the pattern of the month and did step by step instructions on her blog.  I have to admit though that I still had to do quite a bit of guesswork.  I’m still not 100% confident that I did everything correctly, but in the end it all worked with a little massaging so I guess we will call it good. I ended up referring to Grainline’s awesome sewalong for her new coat pattern when I was attaching the lining to the shell which proved to be a huge help.  Also, I noticed that Schnittchen’s instructions (which I didn’t use because they were in German) do not include any diagrams so I would be cautious about buying this pattern if you are a true beginner or have never sewn a jacket before.

* update – Apparently the pdf download comes with an English version, but I didn’t read the fine print so I only opened the one in German.  Oh man guys, sometimes I think I am loosing my mind!  So anyways, good news for all of you English speakers out there who want to sew this up.

I did sew up a muslin before using my precious fabric and found that I was feeling a bit constrained across the back so I added about 1/4″ to center back between the shoulder blades which helped a ton.  I had intentions of adding length to the sleeves and making it wrist length instead of 3/4 length, but I totally forgot when cutting my sleeves out and didn’t have enough fabric to cut more.  I really need to stop listening to podcasts when I’m cutting patterns out.

Now we get to talk about the gorgeous fabric.  I had a hard time choosing because the simple silhouette of the jacket could be transformed by a more ornate or simpler fabric choice.  I think that it would be amazing for spring in a simple chambray or even black ponte.  But in the end I couldn’t stop thinking about this one.  The jacquard that I used is marked on Hart’s website as 100% polyester, but I can confirm that it feels very nice on the skin and presses well.  I love the pattern of the fabric and it’s neutral colors, but that it’s still really interesting.  I am always a sucker for black and white prints. To add a bit more structure to the blazer I ended up fusing all of the shell and facing with a lightweight fusible interfacing. I am not sure if that was necessary, but I like that it gave me crisp lines and little bit more shape to the jacket.

The blazer is fully lined with a beautifully soft habutai silk in sepia.  I love how it feels to have silk on the inside of the blazer!  I am on a bit of a black and brown kick right now and I am pretty obsessed with this contrast lining.

Outfit Details:

Blazer – Made by me (Pattern- Coco, Fabric – Harts Fabric)

Blouse – Made by me (Pattern – Sutton Blouse)

Pants – Gap High Rise Cords

Boots – Aldo

 

Harts fabric, a family owned fabric store out of California has generously offered to give one of you readers a $50 coupon to use on their online store!  All you have to do to enter is pop on over to their site here and leave a comment on this post with what fabric you might want to buy if you win.  I will randomly choose a winner once the contest ends on Friday at midnight EST. I will post the winner on Saturday via Instagram. Good luck!

*disclosure – The fabric for this project was generously provided to me for free from Hart’s Fabrics, but all opinions and reviews are honest and my own.

2 MORE MEN’S BUTTONUPS – MCCALLS 6044

I am mostly a selfish sewer, but my husband has worn the shirts I previously made him so much, that I thought it was about time that I sewed up a couple more versions of McCalls 6044.  I’ve made this pattern multiple times before so the nice thing is that I have tried and true pattern that has been tweaked to fit him perfectly.  To make it go faster, I cut out and sewed both of these at the same time.  Luckily, I could use black thread on both too so I didn’t even have to switch that up while sewing.

This first version was made up with some thin cotton grey and black plaid from Mood fabrics.  For some added interest (or because I didn’t want to plaid match :) I did the button band, cuffs, and pocket on the bias.

Although the pattern doesn’t call for it, I added a back yoke and a back pleat to this one (I’ve always thought it was weird that those are not included).  I like the added interest and I would assume that it feels a bit more comfortable.

This second shirt was made up from some heavier weight cotton from fabric.com.  I had originally bought it to make a button up for myself, but thought it was too thick for me.  I think it works well for a men’s shirt though.

I didn’t bother adding the yoke or pleat on this one, just because the fabric was already pretty stiff. I also tried to match all of the checks this time.  I’m pretty proud of how invisible the front pocket is. Just wish I had thought through the cuffs a little more.  Oh well.

You may notice that I put the pockets on the wrong side on both shirts.  Oops!  The jury is still out about whether or not that bothers him enough for me to add another pocket to balance it out.

LBD WITH EXPOSED ZIPPER – MCCALLS 6886

It is no mystery why Little Black Dresses are so popular.  They are super flattering and appropriate for a myriad of occasions.  I pretty much live in blacks and neutrals, so I find it shocking that it has taken me this long to get on the bandwagon and make myself one.

The pattern is McCalls 6886 – a simple knit dress that Sonja of Gingermakes recommended.  I had also thought about using the Nettie because Sallie’s is so awesome, but in the end went for something a little less bodycon.  I was really pleased with the pattern.  I cut a straight size 12 per my measurements, but could have probably gone with a size 10.  I ended up just trying it on inside out and nipping it where needed with pins and then sewing which worked out just fine.

I did make quite a few adjustments for my personal taste.  First of all I used an exposed zipper for center back. This was my first ever exposed zipper and I love the look, but there was certainly a learning curve.  I used this tutorial which meant adding a facing which got a little bulky – I think I would use a lining for the facing next time, not the ponte which I used. To accomodate the zipper I had to cut the back into two vertical pieces instead of just one as the pattern is drafted.  I added a seam allowance  of coarse and it worked out well.

I also made a facing for the neckline instead of the recommended turn and stitch method. I just thought it looked better as I was trying to make this dress a little more dressy and less tshirt dress.  For the sleeves and hem I used a double needle to allow stretch, but still keep it simple.

The fabric is just a black ponte from my stash.  Can’t remember where I originally bought it, but it’s a nicer quality – more rayon, less polyester.  I love sewing with and wearing ponte knit.  It’s easier to work with than most knits, plus it’s thicker so for a slim fitting dress like this one, it feels less revealing than a shinnier or thinner knit would be.

Outfit Details:

Dress : Handmade by me (pattern is McCalls 6886)

Shoes : Nine West Sandal

 

And yes, in case you are wondering, I was absolutely frozen during this photoshoot.

MY HANDMADE UNIFORM – MANDY BOAT TEES & ESPRESSO LEGGINGS

This winter has been brutal guys.  It is not rare for me to go an entire day without leaving the house.  I am going a bit stir crazy and I can not wait for spring.  So, comfort has been the key the last few months.  Along with a lot of Hudson pants and Linden sweatshirts, I have developed a new uniform of sorts that works perfect for working from home and playing on the floor with kiddos, while still appropriate for slipping on some snow boots to go to the store or pick up kids from school.

It’s my two current pattern obsessions – the Mandy Boat tee from Tessuti (which I have already sung the praises of in past blog posts) and the Espresso Leggings by Cake Patterns.

Let’s start with the Mandy Boat Tee.  This time around I made it up in this perfect sweater knit from fabric.com (which they appear to be out of currently).  It has a loose weave and a heavy drape which made it perfect for a boxy fit.  I think I finally have the fit right with this one size fits all pattern too.  I take about 1 inch out of both center front and center back.  This helps it lay nicer on my shoulders.  I also lengthened the sleeves to a full length sleeve instead of 3/4 length.  And then I lengthened the back hem by about 4 inches and the front by about 2.  I curved the hem to connect the two.  I wanted to make sure that the hem was plenty long enough to cover both my butt and crotch since I knew that I would be wearing it with leggings.  Looking at these pics I probably could have gone even a bit longer in the front.

Now for the Expresso leggings by Cake Patterns.  I was a little skeptical at first because the pattern uses a connect the dots type of drafting technique for your fit.  It felt a lot like elementary school and I was sure that there was no way these were going to be professional in the end.  I was wrong.  These are the best fitting leggings that I have ever worn.  I have short legs and so I was able to make the length correct and also have the knee hit at the right place.  I also really like my leggings high waisted so that they act more like a control top.  This pattern lets you choose your waist height which I love.  I made them up in a nice black black ponte knit fabric from my stash.  I love that they are thick enough not to show all of the ripples and lines like a normal legging would plus they are nice and warm for the cold weather.

So there you have it, my new handmade uniform.  I reach for it whenever it is clean.

Outfit Details: