The Traveler Dress

Since starting this blog, I have rediscovered the joy of wearing dresses, I mean everyday, grab-n-go dresses, especially for hot summer weather. Even though we’re in the dog days of summer here in inland So Cal, I’ve started to turn my sewing thoughts to fall. So for Fresh Make #15 I have made a transition dress, one take will take me from end of summer onto fall.

I asked my filmmaker son to take photos of me and he told me to stand in the dirt in the field across the street from our house.

I asked my filmmaker son to take photos of me and he told me to stand in the dirt in the field across the street from our house.

DSC_0443DSC_0462 The pattern I chose is Simplicity 2246. This is part of the “lisette” collection, which I think is Simplicity’s attempt to appeal to the young, hip, indie sewist. Like all the indie patterns, they have even given it a name, Traveler Dress. (I didn’t have to make one up this time.) It’s an adorable shirt dress with lots of options to “make it your own.” I purchased my pattern at JoAnn’s Fabrics for $1 several months ago during one of their 5 for $5 Simplicity pattern sales.

I made View A, leaving off the hips pockets (I do not need to bring emphasis to that area of my body!). I also made the cap sleeve in View C because just looking at longer sleeves in the middle of summer makes me sweat.2246 The fabric I used is from an awesome chambray collection by Andover Fabrics. I purchased 2  1/2 yards of Chambray in Bluegrass and 1/2 yards of Chambray in Tailor at $9.25 per yard from Hawthorne Threads, my favorite online fabric store.DSC_0440 You can’t go wrong with a basic shirtdress but I couldn’t resist putting my own little twist by using a different color for the sleeve. I had seen some denim blouses and dresses that had different shades of denims on the sleeves on Pinterest, so I was hoping to be a little trendy. Maybe not. Oh, who cares, I really like it. DSC_0448

I am a big proponent of blind hme on dresses and skirts, regardless of what is shown in the directions. I'm not opposed to a machine blind hem when possible like here.

I am a big advocate of blind hems on dresses and skirts, regardless of what is shown in the directions. I am not opposed to a machine blind hem when possible, like here.

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LET’S BE HONEST;
1. This pattern, unlike most, does not have a difficulty rating. A shirt dress is never an appropriate project for a novice, but I have to say for a shirt dress, this pattern is “easy.” The collar does not have a separate neckband which simplifies construction, however it does sacrifice a more tailored look. Maybe you care, maybe you don’t. The instructions are typical of a big 4 pattern, only additionally there are “lisette tips” which I actually thought could be helpful for a new sewist.

2. I graded between a size 12 at the bodice to a size 14 on the bottom. As I always do, I measured the actually pattern pieces at key spots with a tape measure and then put the tape measure around me at the same spot. Then, I decide if I like that amount of wearing ease, and determine what size (or sizes) I cut from there. If you spend time doing this you should get fairly good fitting results. I’m saying this because I have to get something off my chest…I have noticed with the online sewing community, it seems to have become standard practice to make “muslins” for regular garments. That seems unappealing and time consuming to me. I just think careful measuring of the paper pattern can allow you to skip this step. To each her own, if you like making muslins, don’t let me stop you.

3. I am very happy with the cut and fit of this pattern. The slight A-line makes it possible to flatter those of us with a bit of a pear shape. The only change I would make is to the circumference of the sleeve band. I measured my upper arm and added an 1″ to the band, but I would actually add yet another 1″. It’s comfortable when my arms are at my side, but the range of motion is limited because there is no “give” in the fabric.

4. Overall, there were no surprises or oddities with pattern and I would definitely recommend it to an intermediate sewist.

Thanks for reading this post. What will you make to help you comfortably transition into fall?

Anima Pants

I’m not back to selfish sewing yet. I stumbled upon a competition using New Zealand indie company, Papercut Patterns “Anima Pant.” So Hanna wins out again with this modern, sport pant for Fresh Make #14.

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This is my second indie pattern (I made the Moneta dress on my previous post.) I was convinced to purchase Papercut’s Anima Pant when they were offering 20% off the $25 price, plus free shipping (all the way from New Zealand!). And I have to say it arrived sooner than I expected. It comes packaged in a nifty cardboard, hanging envelope.
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The pattern comes with different length options.

The pattern comes with different length options.

The competition is co-sponsored by The Fabric Store. Their only U.S. location is only La Brea Avenue in Los Angeles. Lucky us! A great excuse for Hanna and I to go into the city, and also stop in for a delicious drink and yummy goodie directly across the street at The Sycamore Kitchen. Hanna had free reign in the fabric selection. I always like to see what my art student daughter will choose. The fabric is a beautiful, drapey, single knit jersey. I regret to say that I’m not sure of the fiber content. It looks and feels like a cotton/rayon blend. I pre-shrunk it in the washer and dryer, and it came out beautifully. We bought 1 1/2 yards at $12 per yard. Hanna also chose a waffle ribbed knit for a contrasting waistband.

Fabric in hand in La Brea Avenue.

Fabric in hand on La Brea Avenue.

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The waistband is made with 2″ wide elastic and a drawstring. My buttonholes did not end up in the middle of the waistband, so I put an extra row of shirring at the top, different from the pattern instructions.

I sewed the seams with my regular machine and then serged them together.

I sewed the seams with my regular machine and then serged them together.

The pants have 4" cuffs at the leg bottom.

The pants have 4″ cuffs at the leg bottom.

Back side.

Back side.

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LET’S BE HONEST:
1. The pattern comes in sizes XXS to XL. For Hanna, I cut between a XS and S, and it fit perfectly. Her hips are about 37 1/2″. The rise on the waist/crotch was also perfect for her, not too low, not too high. (I have to say that it is definitely styled to flatter a young, fit gal. And there’s nothing wrong with that. At this point in my life, the most effective way, even more so than watching what I eat, to avoid a “muffin top”, is to wear my pants at my waist!)

2. Besides cutting in-between sizes, the only adjustment I made to the pattern was on the leg length. Hanna’s legs are on the shorter side, so I took off 2″ with a pattern adjustment before cutting out the fabric, and another inch at the bottom once she tried them on before attaching the cuffs.

3. I wrote quite a bit about pattern instructions on my last post about the Moneta Dress, so I won’t repeat a lot of my comments here, except that I feel the same way about this pattern’s instructions. It has a fun graphic presentation printed on brown paper bag like paper. But again, just like on the Colette pattern, and many of the big 4 patterns, the details just aren’t there for the novice sewist.

4. The waffle knit ribbing that Hanna chose for the waistband actually did not end up being a practical choice when it came to sewing with the elastic. The fabric was super stretchy and was difficult to attach the 2″ elastic to it without getting a lot of puckers on the back side. (I finally told myself – Who cares? – no one will see the inside. And it certainly doesn’t matter to Hanna.)

5. I have to say again that this a fabulous, modern, fresh, knit pant pattern. It drapes perfectly on Hanna. The leg width is perfect too. I know for a fact that Hanna will be wearing these pants a lot when she returns to her college campus this fall.

Thanks again for reading my post! Happy sewing! Lori

The Moneta Dress

Having my daughter home for the summer gives me an excuse to try some fun projects that are more suited to the younger crowd. For Fresh Make #13, I decided to make Hanna a Moneta which is an indie design by Colette Patterns that is wildly popular with the online sewing community. DSC_0354 DSC_0348 DSC_0346 The Moneta is available online as printed paper pattern for $18, or as a PDF for $14. I splurged for the printed pattern plus an additional $5.50 for shipping because I’m not fond of PDFs, and I was curious to see the hip graphic design and packaging. Now, $23.50 is a lot for me to spend on pattern, but I felt I needed to try an indie pattern to keep up with the online community. I have to say, the dress is adorable and a smartly designed pattern. I will save my knit picky comments to the end of my post.
cp1028-moneta-cover-med-37a80b85ae73088a6d790a6771162577 The fabric I chose is from the online store, Girl Charlee. I have to be honest that I hesitantly ordered from them as I have been disappointed in their fabrics more than once. I was swayed by the claim that the fabric was made in Los Angeles, and I like to buy American made if possible. Unfortunately, this fabric was no improvement over my past purchases. Basically there is very litte stretch in this single knit jersey and the design is printed significantly off grain. Previously I thought it wouldn’t be cool to bad mouth a resource, but I recently read a post in another blog in which the author chose to be honest about her disappointment in Girl Charlee, and then several readers commented that they felt the same way about the site’s products. Shouldn’t we be truthful in a blog?

The bodice calls for lining. I always like to find something in my stash for linings and such. I used a recycled t-shirt. I also used a hand-dyed recycled t-shirt for the constrasting collar fabric.

The back neckline is slightly lower than the front. Cool design detail, huh?

The back neckline is slightly lower than the front. Cool design detail, huh?

The collar is cleverly sewn with the seam on the outside, but remains hidden when the collar folds over.

The collar is cleverly sewn with the seam on the outside, but remains hidden when the collar folds over.

The bodice is fully lined, and the instructions provide a technique that was new to me for completely machine finishing the armholes.
DSC_0364 The skirt waist was “shirred” (gathered) with an new version of an old technique of stretching the elastic evenly around the opening and sewing it directly on the fabric. I have done this countless times for elastic waistbands on knits, but never for the purpose of gathering a skirt which attaches to a bodice.

The skirt is shirred with clear, lightweight elastic. This techique enables the waist stretch when pulling the dress on and off.

The skirt, shirred with elastic, enables the waist stretch when pulling the dress on and off.

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LET’S BE HONEST:
1. This pattern is a hip, modern and fresh design for knits. I now understand why everyone loves their Monetas.

2. Although Hanna’s measurements more closely corresponded to a SMALL, and the pattern provided an explanation about “negative ease” with knits, I cut a MEDIUM because the fabric had little stretch and the recycled t-shirt I used for the lining was of a thicker fabric. It fit her perfectly for the type of fabric used. I could see though, that if it was made with a stretchy fabric like a rib knit, a smaller size would be appropriate.

3. Please allow me to go on record as staying that I don’t think it necessary or a good technique to serge your 2 collar pieces when it is being flipped right-side out and the bulky serged seam will lie around the inside edge of the collar. This was done on a sewalong I followed, and I’ve seen it done other places online. With knits, even if they curl a bit, I still grade the seam allowances for a smooth outside finish when I am encasing them. A gentle pressing with the iron does wonders too for a nice quality finish.

4. Thoughts on instructions: I know the instructions on the big four pattern companies are ugly and hard to follow. Nobody likes to read them. The Moneta pattern comes with a thread-bound 32 page instruction booklet with simple illustrations on uncluttered, spacious layouts. While I was captured by the novelty of the instructions being visually different, when I really dove into them taking the perceptive of someone with little background experience/knowledge, they were just as hard to follow as traditional patterns instructions. I am not knocking people who write sewing instructions for any company. I know it must be hard; I wouldn’t want to do it. These instructions also contain some shaded boxes that direct you to websites with videos that contain further instruction details on some of the main techniques. This is a good thing, but I’m going to say that I’m glad that I could rely my own knowledge rather than go watch a video.

To conclude, Hanna did not pick out the fabric and did not ask me to this make this dress. I wanted to make it and I think it’s adorable, but I am not of the age or have the figure to wear it. I think she likes it; I hope she wears it. Whatever the case, it is still is joy to sew for her as I have done since she was very young.

Again, thanks for reading this post. I welcome your comments. Cheers, Lori